Editorial: Raise consumer awareness of food loss reduction even more

April 18 , 2019

The effort to reduce disposed food that is still edible—so called “food loss”—must become more vigorous than ever.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of the Environment announced that the amount of food loss in Japan reached 6.43 million tons in FY2016, declining by 30,000 tons from the previous fiscal year.

In the “Schedule of the Basic Plan for Consumers” revised in 2016 that aims to promote consumer-oriented policies, the government stated it would revisit commercial practices and implement initiatives toward reducing food loss in restaurants. Komeito’s proposals were reflected in this revision. The latest two-ministry announcement confirms that the government’s efforts have been paying off.

However, despite the overall decrease—the business sector pared food loss by 50,000 tons—food loss at the household level actually increased by 20,000 tons year on year. The question, then, is how to enhance initiatives for consumers.

According to a Consumer Affairs Agency survey, those who choose a product with the closest expiration date on a supermarket shelf are likely to be aware of the food loss issue. Thus, one of the first steps is for government to raise consumer awareness of the problem—and to step up coordination between public agencies and private sector.

Komeito now aims to sponsor a bill to encourage additional measures to reduce food loss. This bill addresses the responsibilities of the national and local governments, food business operators and consumers, calling for a national campaign of initiatives with all parties cooperating with each other. At the local assembly level, Komeito legislators are spearheading the effort to pass a directive to raise consumer awareness and to support foodbanks that provide unused food to the needy.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets halving the amount of disposed food per person at the retail and consumption levels by 2030 worldwide. The Japanese government, meanwhile, has set a goal to halve household food loss by FY2030, an initiative Komeito will assume a leadership role.