Speaking at the Save Food Congress, staged at Interpack in Dusseldorf, Germany, Traumann said: “Global food wastage is one of the most pressing problems of our age.
"The food packaging industry can make a valuable contribution to reducing the wastage of food.”
Appropriate packaging strategies help to protect food along the value chain and to make food available to more people. “Packaging preserves food, protects it from physical damage and temperature influences and makes it transportable,” he said
In developing countries, packaging offers a particularly important way of keeping foods fresh for longer so facilitating transport and trade over long distances.
In developed countries, packaging cuts food waste both by consumers and retailers, said Traumann. Smart packages will play an increasingly important role in alerting food processers and consumers to the status of the food the contained in the package.
Werner Dornscheidt, president and CEO of Messe Dusseldorf, organisers of Interpack added: “The central issue here is that the sheer amount of crops that spoil on farms or still useable food that we throw away, would be enough on its own to feed those people who go hungry. In both these scenarios, packaging can help.”
Dornscheidt said he hoped that the Save Food initiative would encourage small efficient packaging factories in remote rural areas in developing countries to identify new profitable business opportunities.
A joint statement from packaging companies supporting the Save Food initiative confirmed: “The packaging industry offers the expertise for combating food losses with sustainable packaging strategies throughout the entire value chain. With appropriate packaging, it will be possible to supply a growing world population with food.”
The statement also highlighted the conservation of resources through packaging protective function including hygienic and mechanical safeguarding, protection from spoiling and improved transport potential.
Western consumers also have key role to play in cutting waste, said Dornscheidt. “Over abundance breeds a throw-away mentality and people lose all sense of respect for food.”
Deadlines for disposal
Congress moderator Melinda Crane added: “Too often in western economies, sell-by dates are seen as deadlines for disposal.”
Meanwhile, a Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report presented at the congress confirmed that one third (1.3bn tonnes) of all food produced for human consumption is either lost or wasted.
The report, commissioned from the Swedish Institute of Food Production and Biotechnology, recommended further research to understand the nature of the losses and the cost of prevention.
In developing countries up to 40 per cent of food spoils before it reaches the consumer.
In Europe, 30 per cent of all food is throw-away.