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Paul Bulcke, CEO of Nestlé. What will we eat in 2050? It depends on our future level of awareness

Economy / -

For Nestlé, the group that is active in the fields of nutrition, health and wellness, with products sold almost everywhere in the world, its presence at Expo Milano 2015 is confirmation of its global role, but also the future challenge it faces. Since April 2008 the group has been led by CEO Paul Bulcke, who has been with Nestlé since 1979.

Speaking to Simone Molteni, Director of ExpoNet, the CEO of Nestlé S.A., Paul Bulcke addresses a wide range of topics covering both the theme of Expo Milano 2015 "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life", which invites us to think about what we’ll be eating in the future, and how Nestle is using its know-how to address the needs of such a large number of people, among many topical issues.

"What will we eat in the future is an extremely important theme - begins Paul Bulcke in the video interview - both with regards to nutrition, and on how to have enough food for the entire world population. “The key themes that emerge from this interview are: the need for information to make informed choices about food, knowledge, innovation, and the fight against waste.

"Given that resources are limited, we must be responsible, both as a company and as individuals. This is the message we want to spread within the Swiss Pavilion. Everyone can do their part, and play an active role in their own health." To address the topic of reducing food waste, a company like Nestlé "wants to participate in the debate on possible solutions. Thanks to our internal processes, we’ve been able to almost eliminate waste in production, to resize product portions and to improve packaging. There is enough food in the world, let’s not waste it. We have a huge opportunity."

The presence of Nestlé and its CEO Paul Bulcke at Expo Milano 2015 confirms once more the Universal Exposition as an ideal platform for discussions on issues of global significance.
 
 
 

How we eat in the world, and how much. The Oxfam Index: Netherlands? Best. Italy? Not good. Africa? The worst.

Economy / -

indice oxfam
© Ludovic Maisant/Corbis Dutch Farmer with Gouda Cheeses

Oxfam, the humanitarian organization has compiled a list of the countries where food is more abundant, healthy, nutritious and accessible to all. Italy is overtaken even by France, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Belgium. Britain is the worst in Europe. Trailing at the end Burundi, Yemen, Madagascar and India.

In the world there is enough food to feed the entire population, but every day the number of people who suffer from hunger exceeds 800 million. These are some of the findings gathered in the new Oxfam report on food security.
 
The Netherlands is the country in the world where food is richer, healthier, more nutritious and also more affordable. This contrasts with Chad that closes the ranking of 125 countries surveyed by the index Good Enough to Eat were prepared earlier this year by the NGO.
 
The report is based on data from various international organizations, such as FAO, the World Bank and the World Health Organization and takes into account many different parameters: the availability of food, its price and quality. Combined together, they can give you a precise idea of what and how you eat in a country, in short, an index of food security and the supply of food for citizens.
 
At the top of this list are mainly European countries. Behind the Netherlands, where everyone can buy food enough good, are France and Switzerland. Then Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Belgium. Italy is in eighth place with Ireland, Portugal, Luxembourg and Australia. A good location in absolute terms, but Elisa Bacciotti, director of Oxfam campaigns Italy was left wondering: "Italy could be in first place, but more and more people are struggling to eat healthily and to make ends meet: the cost of life in general is high compared to the average income of the Italians."
 
The United Kingdom is outside of the top ten (13), paying for the volatility of its food prices compared to other consumer products. Also outside of the top 20 are the U.S. and Japan. If in the United States the quality of food is good, the rate of obesity and diabetes among the American population is still too high; whereas in Japan good food is very accessible but not everyone has the possibility to buy it.
 
Almost all of the last 30 positions are occupied by countries of the African continent. The last position of Chad is justified by the fact that it is the country in the world where food, compared to the average income of the population, costs the most (along with Guinea and Gambia) and where the rate of underweight children is higher, equal to 34 percent. At the bottom of the list are also Burundi (119), Yemen (121) and Madagascar (122) where malnutrition affects a large part of the population.
 
According to Oxfam, there is enough food  in the world to feed everyone, yet every day, 840 million people are added to the list of those who already suffer from hunger. For this reason, it is calling for a dramatic change in the way food is distributed by governments, and between industrialized and developing countries. To all this must be added the threat of global warming, which according to the latest forecasts, might increase the number of people who suffer from hunger by between 20 and 50 percent by 2050, when the population of the Earth will be nine billion, two billion more than today.
 
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What's right (and what's wrong) with the French anti food waste law

Economy / -

Banco Alimentare
via Banco Alimentare

In France, further to an amendment of the energy efficiency law, supermarkets are to be prevented from discarding food that is still within its sell-by date, making it mandatory to donate surplus produce to soup kitchens and charitable organisations. Are we really starting to get serious about this? We asked the president of Italian food bank foundation Banco Alimentare.

In 2014 Banco Alimentare distributed more than 40,000 tonnes of food that would otherwise have been wasted. Andrea Giussani is the president of the foundation, which has been working in Italy for 26 years on the recovery and distribution to charities and community projects of in-date food that would otherwise be discarded to landfill.
 
News outlets have just reported that an "anti food waste" law has been approved in France. It seems like a step in the right direction.
Let's be clear: the French law still has to cross several bureaucratic hurdles before it comes into force. A more accurate story would be that in this stage of the process the proposal has been approved unanimously so we can look forward to a positive result and the law coming into force without any major revisions, but it's still a long way from actual implementation. The positive fact from a cultural standpoint is that the principle of the war against food waste has been asserted so let's hope that we can look forward to a unanimous vote on that issue.
 
And the downside?
The limit of this initiative is linked to its effective applicability: the proposed law focuses on the obligation of supermarkets and shops to donate edible food that is close to the end of its shelf life to charities to ensure it's not wasted. It's a good idea, but without a robust downstream organisation there's a risk that the problem of food waste management will be simply transferred to charity organisations. 

Let me explain: the majority of food approaching the end of its shelf life will be fresh produce that must be collected and distributed rapidly using suitable vehicles (e.g. to avoid breaking the cold chain). Otherwise the food will be spoiled and must anyway be discarded.
 
That's clear. The problem is simple, but the solution is surprisingly complex. What's the best way to win the war against food waste?
First of all we need to bring all those involved in the food chain around the table for in depth discussions. And anyway, rather than coercion, the most effective route is to offer incentives to businesses that implement anti-waste strategies: e.g. tax relief or a deduction on disposal charges for companies producing less food waste. 
 
We also need to revise the legislation in order to facilitate the recovery process, without harming the principles of food hygiene and respect for the recipients of rescued food products. There's plenty of work to be done also on the shelf life information given on food labels.
 
How about the situation in Italy?
We should be proud of our position as the first country in Europe to pass an anti-food-waste law (even though it went by a different name at the time). Approved around 12 years ago, the "good Samaritan" law made it possible to recover food cooked by canteens and supermarket deli services. Just last year Banco Alimentare recovered more than 1 million portions through this channel. We're also sitting on a ministerial panel that's currently preparing a best practices manual for food recovery, which is due for release soon.
 
Banco Alimentare is also involved in recovering surplus food from all the restaurants operating on the Expo Milano 2015 site, to ensure nothing goes to waste. How's that going?
Some of the caterers at Expo have started working well, planning their purchases carefully and cooking exclusively to order, while others are still struggling with the difficulties of planning food quantities. We're monitoring the situation, training anyone who's interested in learning how to achieve zero waste. As soon as we receive a call, we turn up to recover any surplus food. When the process is operating in full swing we'll definitely be able to collect more and limit waste still further, but above all we'll be operating more rationally. And let's not forget: the work must be carried out at night and we have to deliver everything we collect to local charity structures immediately.
 

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