"Lowinfood" - Reducing food losses and waste
European research project aims at reducing food waste in four value chains
The agri-food sector is a key motor of the EU economy. In 2014, a total turnover of nearly 4 trillion euros was produced by agriculture, food industry, wholesale and retail together, with over 23 million people employed along the supply chain. However, current food systems face great challenges related to their level of sustainability, especially concerning the scarcity of environmental resources to feed the growing world population, the impact of food production on climate change and the issues of food security, malnutrition and inequality in food availability.
The loss and waste of food at all stages of the food value chains, including consumption, hinders the sustainability of food systems by touching several of these issues. Food loss and waste are estimated to amount to 88 million tonnes per year in Europe, corresponding to about 20 % of the total food produced.
LOWINFOOD consortium have come together to deploy and implement innovative solutions to the food waste problem, by demonstrating their effectiveness and market potential. A portfolio of 14 innovations has been selected among promising solutions that have already been developed and tested by some partners, and includes technological tools and devices as well as organizational and managerial solutions.
The European Union establishes a scale, the TRL (Technology Readiness Level), to estimate the maturity of developing technologies. Lowinfood will improve the TRL of all the 14 innovations, including technological tools and devices as well as organizational and managerial solutions, to bring them closer to market and foster their adoption across value chains in several EU countries. They already have a minimum TRL of 4/5 (technologies that have been validated in the lab and in the relevant environment), and Lowinfood will upscale them up to TRL 7/8 (prototype demonstration in an operational environment, and completed and certified systems).
The aim of LOWINFOOD is to provide the necessary demonstration and upscale to allow market replication. The core activities of the project are all focused on the evaluation of the efficacy of these innovations in reducing food losses and waste. The impact of the innovations will be evaluated considering the amount of food waste avoided as well as in environmental and socio-economic terms.
Fruits & vegetables, bakery products and fish value chains are selected as settings to apply the innovations as these perishable foods are particularly concerned by the issue of food waste. For each value chain, the upstream stages are considered in the demonstration of the innovations, from production to retailing. Another set of innovations is applied to the consumer level, with the aim to avoid the waste of all foods in out-of-home and at-home consumption.
Prof. Dr. Petra Teitscheid
iSuN - Institute of Sustainable Nutrition
FH Münster University of Applied Sciences