Every year, 1.3bn tonnes of food is lost or wasted globally, causing estimated economic losses of $1tn and significant damage to the environment – and all stakeholders, including capital market participants, have an important role to play in tackling this global problem.
Food inflation puts focus on food waste
About a third of all food produced goes to waste, accounting for 8-10% of greenhouse gas emissions. If food waste was a country, it would be the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses after the US and China.
Household food waste is the biggest culprit, accounting for 70% of total food waste in developed countries. In Ireland, it is estimated that households generate food waste of 55kg per capita per year1. There was a significant improvement in food waste at the time of the COVID outbreak in April 2020 as people spent more time at home, however, as life has returned to normal the level of food waste has risen once again.
Given the level of food inflation that we are seeing at the moment, we believe consumers will begin to pay closer attention to their spending habits, which in turn will bring food waste back in focus. We estimate the Irish consumer could save about €60 per month by reducing food waste.
Education and innovation are key
All stakeholders have a responsibility to reduce food waste and accelerate progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 12.3 – reducing food waste by 50% by 2030.
International groups, such as Champions 12.3 and agreements such as the Courtauld Commitment 2030, can help drive the food waste agenda. However, a heightened focus on education, particularly within the household around labelling and refrigeration, as well as investment and innovation in food technologies, can play a crucial role in reducing food waste.
The role of capital markets in the fight against food waste for a more sustainable future
Capital markets have an important role to play too – and from a debt and equity perspective, there has already been a substantial increase in investor appetite for companies that demonstrate a strong ESG-focused strategy.
ESG investment recorded inflows of over $90bn in 2021 – that compares to $63.3bn in 2019 – and despite the market turmoil we’ve experienced recently, there has been over $31bn of net inflows into ESG investments in the first four months of the year. Meanwhile, in 2021, green bond issuance increased by 87% to $532bn, and sustainability-linked bonds increased by 989% to $92bn.
In the venture capital market, food-tech that reduces food waste or improves food traceability or kitchen/manufacturing efficiencies is currently worth $61.9bn – and that’s expected to reach $85bn by 2026, with deal activity almost doubling in 2021. And so, the potential for start-ups and investments to support enhanced technology offerings across the food supply chain will help to deliver a more sustainable food system for people and the planet.
Goodbody is anchor sponsor of Food and Beverage Finance ’22
Goodbody Food and Beverage Analyst Jason Molins will present his research paper at the Food and Beverage Finance ’22 summit – an event designed to connect industry leaders with investors and financiers from the global food sector – in University College Cork. The theme of this year’s event, which takes place from 19-20 May, is Investing in sustainable production, distribution and retailing of food and beverages.
Ken Murphy, CEO of Tesco, Gerry Murphy, Chairman of Tate & Lyle, Tim Clarkson, Head of Strategy for Zespri, Noel Keeley, CEO of Musgraves, and Caroline Keeling, CEO of Keelings, will be among the industry leaders attending – and lively and engaging debates, interviews and panel discussions will take place before an invited audience of investors, financiers, and industry advisers during the two-day summit. The event is sponsored by AIB, Goodbody, KPMG, and A+L Goodbody.
If you would like to receive a copy of the research report, please email: [email protected]
1 Source: UN Food Waste Index Report 2021.