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COVID-19 and the food markets: UNECE - #saveinvisiblefood campaign

A stress test with uncertain outcome

The COVID-19 crisis has led to severe disruptions of our food systems. UNECE’s Food Outlook has collected data and evidence over many months of limited outlet channels due to pandemic measures; overflows of supply due to reduced demand of restricted hotel, restaurant, catering and canteen sectors; fresh food market closures; and slow-reacting order practices in the fresh food sector with long term impact.

In some fresh food sectors, the situation described on Food Outlook is particularly bad for example, the mango or the avocado market. Currently, in Europe alone, 1000 containers full of avocadoes are overstock; i.e. double of what the market can handle. This situation—described by many as the worst avocado crisis in decades—does not stop there. The avocado crisis becomes, in fact, an enormous food loss crisis and eventually a human crisis: Not only will over a 1 mio kg of avocadoes be discarded in the next weeks, more than 2000 farmers won’t be paid. And this is just one instance of a food system that failed the stress test and resulted in overstock, mismatched supply and demand, overproduction and surplus… which ultimately becomes food dumped and lost. The food crisis becomes a food loss and waste crises and worst of all a social crisis with immense costs, particularly for the most vulnerable.

UNECE - #saveinvisiblefood campaign

UNECE, with its #saveinvisiblefood campaign, encourages all actors of the food supply chain to redistribute, repurpose and add value to the food which we are not selling, buying or consuming – the lost or invisible food that many of us did not even know existed. Although awareness of food loss and waste has increased in recent years, COVID-19 has brought this lost food to the forefront and to our attention.

We call upon food loss and waste pioneers, farmers, traders, exporters and importers, retailers and consumers to take this opportunity to become part of the solution.

Please let us know about your initiatives and contact us

Examples of initiatives by countries and the private sector: Polish Agricultural and Food Quality Inspection: https://www.gov.pl/web/ijhars

In the media: https://www.farmer.pl/fakty/kampania-przeciwko-marnowaniu-zywnosci-saveinvisiblefood,97783.html

We also encourage you to raise awareness on food loss using the #saveinvisiblefood hashtag on your social media platforms.

Our FeedUP@UN system is just one answer – we are encouraging your collaborative efforts to send us yours for a more sustainable, empowering and transparent food system, less loss and waste, more social mandates and food security and climate consciousness.