ITALY – The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Union of Wholesale Markets (WUWM) have agreed to renew and strengthen their partnership with an eye to globally reducing food loss and waste.

The WUWM is a non-profit association representing more than 160 wholesale markets from every continent that seeks to ensure that wholesale and retail markets’- especially for fresh produce – efforts are recognized along the food distribution chains and food safety systems.

The organisations have signed a three year agreement to collaborate in the fields of knowledge sharing, advocacy and capacity development, reduce FLW in food markets and in distribution systems.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is set to assure supplies of healthy and fresh food in an increasingly urbanized world as well as finding and implementing sustainable ways to feed the growing population in the years ahead.

The partnership aims to develop, share and exchange knowledge and information through various forums with partners and stakeholders for the application of good and sustainable practices in reducing FLW.

“We are both committed to working together to find innovative and efficient ways to overcome the enormous challenge that we will have to face in the agri-food sector if we want to be able to feed in a sustainable way human populations in the forthcoming decades,” said Stéphane Layan, Vice-Chairman of WUWM.

“Wholesale markets are key actors for healthy and nutritious diets” and for “enabling small and local farmers to have a suitable platform to sell their production all year long.”

Máximo Torero Cullen, FAO Assistant Director-General, Economic and Social Development Department underscored the importance of working together in finding solution to tackle food waste, “Wholesale markets are critical for producers and consumers.

“For producers, they allow producers to aggregate what they produce and increase their access to markets and assure standards and food safety.

“For consumers, they provide access to diversified diets at affordable prices. Moreover, wholesale markets are the last phase in the chain of activities where food losses could occur so they are central in reducing them. So we need to find ways to work together.”

The organisations said that the cooperation will contribute to FAO’s development of a Code of Conduct regarding Food Loss and Waste – a subject central to this year’s State of Food and Agriulture report.

Post-harvest losses, both before and after reaching the retail level, have been linked to various activities including on-farm activities, storage and transportation as well limited shelf life and consumer behaviour.

Reducing food losses along production and supply chains offers a critical opportunity to increase the efficiency and sustainability of food systems to better deliver on nutrition and food security.

The renewed partnership is strategic given that WUWM’s members are typically central in delivering healthy foods to urban areas.