National Strategy for Food Waste Reduction

In early 2019, the Federal Cabinet adopted the National Strategy for Food Waste Reduction, which had been presented by Federal Minister Julia Klöckner.

The strategy identifies possible causes of food waste. It pinpoints challenges and spheres of activity to substantially reduce food waste along the food supply chain.

The aim is to halve per-capita food waste in Germany at retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses, by 2030. This is envisaged by the Coalition Agreement and the United Nations 2030 Agenda.

The National Strategy for Food Waste Reduction was drawn up jointly with the Länder and associations from the food industry and civil society. The target agreements, measures and the progress of the strategy are successively published on the website www.lebensmittelwertschaetzen.de.

Food waste in Germany

In Germany, around 12 million tonnes of food waste are generated every year. If food waste in private households were reduced by 50 %, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) could be cut in Germany by 6 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents, according to an expert opinion by the Scientific Advisory Boards on Food, Agricultural and Forest Policies of the BMEL. Anyone reducing food waste hence makes an active contribution to resource conservation and climate stewardship.

Startbild für das Video
Erkläranimation: Wo enstehen Lebensmittelabfälle?

Approach and participatory implementation of the National Strategy

The Strategy makes it clear that reducing food waste is a task for society as a whole. All stakeholders from civil society, entrepreneurs and scientists are therefore called upon to contribute to the process necessary to fulfil this task.

  • This is to be achieved through participation in sectoral dialogue fora: Through this cooperation between these sectors, specific measures for the reduction of food waste are to be established and sector-specific targets laid down.
  • Representatives of the sectoral dialogue fora will participate in one overarching national dialogue forum to exchange experiences and views across sectors and assess the measures and progress resulting from the dialogue fora. It gathered for the first time in Berlin on 6 November 2019 in the presence of the Federal Minister of Food, Julia Klöckner.
  • The joint body of the Federal Government and the Laender is a key component in the implementation process. It undertakes the tasks of an inter-ministerial, cross-Land governance instrument, monitors the evaluation process and identifies further fields of action.

Implementation steps

Dialogue forum: Avoiding food waste in away-from-home catering

German food retailers sell products to the value of 180 billion euros annually. Away-from-home catering follows in second place with sales of around 78 billion euros per year. The away-from-home market has increasingly gained in importance in recent years and offers great potential for saving 30 to 50 percent of all food waste. This is shown by the results of the more than 400 waste measurements and analyses that United against Waste e. V. has carried out since 2014 in cooperation with different businesses.

The aim of this dialogue forum is to establish uniform methods for the recording and analysis of food waste and appropriate measures to reduce food waste in away-from-home catering. The aim is to also set targets for the away-from-home market for agreed time periods up until 2030 (total industry, subsectors and businesses), agree on evaluation tools and document measures and the targets that are achieved. WWF Germany organises and coordinates the dialogue forum on avoiding food waste in away-from-home catering for the BMEL.

Dialogue forum for wholesalers and retailers

The dialogue forum for wholesalers and retailers was launched in September 2019. The BMEL supports the dialogue forum with approx. 700,000 euros, with Federal Minister of Food Julia Klöckner handing over the notification of payment to the National Dialogue Forum on 6 November 2019. The kick-off event is scheduled for early 2020. During the three-year project period, a total of six face-to-face meetings are planned, during which concrete results for the businesses’ activities will be developed. It is planned to prioritise specific fields of action and coordinate demonstration projects. The aim of the project is to draft an agreement related to the trade sector. In addition, support is to be provided for data collection on food waste in the trade sector.

Recording of food waste in Germany, baseline 2015

Together with the University of Stuttgart, the Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute calculated the food waste levels along the entire food supply chain for Germany on behalf of the BMEL. In doing so, European Union requirements were taken into account, which will ensure the future comparability of food waste quantities, and which will act as the baseline for continuous reporting to the EU until 2030. The TI data was published on 12 September 2019 and is the working basis and benchmark to describe the progress made by the National Strategy for Food Waste Reduction.

Kick-off event of the National Dialogue Forum

Federal Minister of Food Julia Klöckner opened the first National Dialogue Forum in Berlin on 6 November 2019. At the event, around 100 participants from various sectors, including consumers, exchanged ideas and information. They helped shape the implementation process of the national strategy, networked across sector boundaries and evaluated the measures and progress made in the dialogue forums.

Promoting the digital eco platform of Tafel Deutschland e. V. (German Association of Food Banks)

The BMEL supports the "eco platform" project of Tafel Deutschland e. V., which aims to improve the interface between food donor organisations and the food banks by providing digital solutions.

Cooperation with the food retail sector

Bundesministerin Julia Klöckner und Penny-Chef Stefan Magel bei der Pressekonferenz zur Kampagne "Kostbares retten"
Bundesministerin Julia Klöckner und Penny-Chef Stefan Magel stellen die Kampagne "Kostbares retten" vor © BMEL/Photothek

In cooperation with the Too good for the bin! initiative, the food retailer Penny started the nationwide "Recovering precious food" campaign. Since the best-before date is not a date by when the food product needs to be thrown away, the message is: “Smell. Try. Enjoy”. The dairy products of the private Penny label will be clearly labelled as being possibly safe for consumption after the expiry of the best-before date

The Federal Ministry of Food generally welcomes actions by food retailers as further steps towards implementing the Strategy for Food Waste Reduction - from the use of digital ordering systems and donations to food banks to consumer education. Retailers are an important link between producers and consumers.

The "Too good for the bin!" initiative as a baseline

Kampagnenmotiv von "Zu gut für die Tonne!" mit Kartoffel Kampagnenmotiv von "Zu gut für die Tonne!" mit Kartoffel
© BMEL

The BMEL launched the "Too good for the bin!" initiative in March 2012. This has brought the issue of food waste more into the public eye and made consumers have a greater appreciation of food. “Too good for the bin!” is currently being developed as an umbrella brand for communicating the strategy and extended to encompass the entire food supply chain; the materials and the homepage are being revised.

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