Rockefeller Foundation on a mission to reduce food waste

DAVOS • The Rockefeller Foundation has announced a US$130 million (S$186 million) initiative to reduce food waste around the world.

The wide-ranging plan, outlined at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Thursday, will involve everything from from thrown-out crops to excess food at the dinner table.

The century-old foundation, which has already taken on challenges like making cities more "resilient" to the challenges of the 21st century, has estimated that food waste represents a US$1 trillion drain on the global economy, stretching from farmers in developing countries to multinational corporations. And that amount of wasted food, the foundation believes, could feed more than 1.5 billion people.

Stemming from the Rockefeller Foundation's cause alone, the no-waste movement has gained momentum lately and was a topic of discussion at the United Nations global climate conference last year.

"The idea is that if you could really reduce food waste across the value chain, you could feed people across the planet," Dr Judith Rodin, the foundation's president, said in an interview here.

The idea for the initiative arose from conversations with the president of Iceland about six to seven years ago, Dr Rodin said.

Fishermen from that country complained that they were needlessly trashing countless fish heads, bones and tails when such grist could instead be sold to African countries where the pieces are prized for soup. That led to discussions about how to clamp down on waste across the spectrum of food production and consumption, which were further spurred by the World Economic Forum's focus on issues such as food security.

To carry out the initiative, the Rockefeller Foundation plans to enlist companies and governments to roll out a series of waste-reduction programmes. Much of the focus will be on the developing world, where making fuller use of food could have a big effect.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2016, with the headline 'Rockefeller Foundation on a mission to reduce food waste'. Print Edition | Subscribe