Forum to address global problem of food waste

November 3, 2014

Murdoch University will host a food waste forum next month to tackle the mounting world-health problem of food waste, poor nutrition and starvation.

Murdoch University, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia have collaborated to hold a Reduce Waste Forum at the Kim Beazley Lecture Theatre at Murdoch University’s South Street Campus on Friday November 14, 2014.

Chair in Biosecurity and Food Security at Murdoch University, Professor Shashi Sharma, said food loss or wastage is causing serious social, environmental and economic concerns worldwide.

“The world’s human population is projected to surpass 9.2 billion by 2050 and at this rate of growth there is a net increase of nearly 230,000 new people a day,” Professor Sharma said.

“Two billion people in the world do not have access to nutritious food or are starving and this problem is set to get worst.

Professor Sharma said that agricultural research into producing more food to meet global demand must continue, but by addressing food waste we can also solve part of the problem.

“Large quantities of food that could feed billions of people are being lost or wasted globally each year. In some countries and regions up to 50 per cent of food grown and produced for consumption is lost.

Professor Sharma said Australians waste food worth about $8 billion every year, with significant wastage occurring at the consumer and retail levels.

Director of the University of Western Australia’s Institute of Agriculture, Hackett Professor Kadambot Siddique, said food waste is a regional, national and global concern.

“The three major WA universities are working together to develop innovative strategies and solutions to reduce food waste,” he said.

Professor Janet Bornman, Director of the International Institute of Agri-Food Security at Curtin University, said from a Western Australian perspective the Forum will be a first step towards bringing ideas together for a regional assessment of how reduction in food waste can be used to maximise economic and sustainable development.

“The opportunities are enormous in terms of focussing on how we can conserve our valuable resources and at the same time highlight the other side of food production, namely food recovery,” Professor Bornman said.

“Our three universities would like to see engagement at a State level for projects that would further the main theme of the Forum.”

The main theme of the Forum, Waste in Food Value Chains: Opportunities for Technological, Policy, and R&D Innovations for minimising and utilising Food Waste brings together six national and international experts.

Speakers include Professor Hugh Campbell, University of Otago, Dr André Teixeira, Chief R&D and Quality Officer at Goodman Fielder Limited, Dr Steve Lapidge, Director at the South Australian Research & Development Institute of Agribusiness, Marcus Geisler, Chairman of WA Waste Authority, Greg Hebble, CEO Foodbank WA and Geoff Richards, Managing Director of Richgro Garden Products.

Forum presentations will cover food waste in plant, animal and fish food value chains, indicate key points in the food value chain where major waste occurs and outline technological, policy and research and development initiatives to reduce waste.

The forum will finish with a panel discussion and identification of the actions required to ensure waste minimisation in Western Australia.  Professor Lyn Beazley, the Sir Walter Murdoch Distinguished Professor of Science, will provide a summary at the conclusion of the event.

Register to attend the event by November 7.

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