A recent study reveals that 9 out of 10 Chilean households waste food, while Chile Conscious Origin takes the lead to reverse this trend with sustainable initiatives and a circular economy approach.

A recent study conducted by Maggi and Ipsos revealed a worrying reality in Chilean households: about 92% of them regularly waste food. This finding, shared on the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, highlights a critical disconnect between awareness and actual practices.

The study, which included 600 people, found that although there is awareness about the scale of the food waste problem (72%), and people are upset by it (91%), the practice of throwing away food is still common in most homes. Participants identified purchase, preparation, and storage as the key stages where waste occurs, mainly due to buying and cooking too much.

Given this scenario, the Chilean minister of Agriculture, Esteban Valenzuela, highlighted the need to address food waste, especially under the current climate change scenario. With the ongoing growth of the middle class around the world and an estimated world population of 9.6 billion people by 2050, maintaining current lifestyles would require the equivalent of almost 3 planets. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 12 encourages sustainable consumption and production, i.e., doing more and better with less, increasing resource efficiency, and promoting sustainable lifestyles.

In this scenario, the Chile Conscious Origin program promoted by the Office of Agricultural Research and Policy (ODEPA), focuses on adding environmental indicators to sustainability standards supporting a wide range of initiatives. That includes promoting circular economy practices, like selling food products discarded for cosmetic reasons or using organic waste as biofertilizer.

These initiatives not only seek to reduce economic losses and greenhouse gas emissions, but also improve the availability of food and nutrients, especially for people experiencing food insecurity. The program’s approach puts Chile in line with SDG 12, specifically target 12.3, which calls for cutting per capita global food waste in half at the retail and consumer level, as well as food losses along production and supply chains.

Overall, food loss and waste contribute 8 to 10% of global anthropogenic emissions. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), one third of the food produced for human consumption is lost. When we waste food, we also waste the water and energy that went into its production, which drives food insecurity and overproduction.

That is why it is important to promote and develop resilient food systems and search for potential solutions to achieve the SDG target 12.3.

It is estimated that global food loss and waste range from 20% to 45% depending on the type of product. According to data from the FAO, one third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted (equivalent to 1.3 billion tons valued at 1 trillion USD). Losses occur throughout the entire production chain, transportation, sales channels, and in our own homes.

However, it should be noted that actions to reduce food loss and waste have a positive impact on food systems’ sustainability. In terms of production and business, they prevent economic losses and boost return of investment as they mitigate GHG emissions; and, in terms of consumption, the availability of food and nutrients goes up for food insecure groups.

Target 12.3 reads: “By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses,” all areas in which Chile is already moving forward through various public and private sustainability initiatives.

The Maggi and Ipsos study, together with the work of Chile Conscious Origin, underscores both the urgency and opportunity of addressing food waste in Chile. A comprehensive approach involving all areas of society helps the country move towards a more sustainable, efficient, and conscious future in terms of food production and consumption, addressing current and future environmental and social challenges.