A few days ago, at the Paris International Agriculture Show, Danone and the French Food Banks Federation signed a partnership agreement to combat food waste. In fact, as the Ministry of Agriculture explains (the agreement was signed at the Ministry’s stand in the Show), Danone, like other agroindustrial companies, often has to take back products because they do not match the demands of their clients in the distribution sector, whether they are too close to their sell-by date or there is something wrong with their labelling. These products are perfectly suitable for human consumption, but are destined for the waste bin when there are still too many people in France who cannot afford to buy the food they need. With the partnership agreement,
Danone undertakes to give these goods to the French Food Banks Federation, so that they can redistribute them to people in need: 750,000 in 2011.
In the developed world, and especially in the countries and regions most affected by the crisis, poverty is increasing and a growing number of people do not have proper access to food. Food banks strive to help these people, and it is thus crucial that they are regularly “fed” with donations and contributions.
Food aid vs. food waste
Danone is participating to the effort, and not just in France. For instance, the Danone Foundation and the Food Banks have also partnered up in Argentina. Firstly, for donations: in 2012, Danone provided 400,000 kilos of dairy and water products. The two entities also developed workshops together, called “Alimentando Redes” (Feeding the Networks) to help organisations strengthen their networks, pool their resources and optimise their purchasing and expenses. And the Danone Foundation worked with a social investment consultant on diagnosing the needs of each and every one of the 18 Argentinian food banks, and pinpointing their opportunities for improvement. In Spain, Danone and the National Federation of Food Banks (FESBAL) have also joined forces to provide food to the 30,000 families who cannot afford it. Danone contributes with a programme called “Junto Ayudamos el Doble” (“Together we can double the help”): the company gives 10 million products a year and makes an extraordinary donation each year during the “Grand Recogida de Alimentos”, a national campaign encouraging people to donate food to FESBAL.
As shown by the terms of the partnership agreement between Danone and the French Food Banks, the fight against food waste is also an important aspect of food aid. In France, ANDES (the national network of social and solidarity stores, which sell quality products to customers in need for 10% of their price) also contributes to a twofold aim: firstly, helping the underprivileged feed themselves in the healthiest and most decent way possible, and secondly, tackling the issue of food waste. Among other sources of supply, the organisation thus collects vegetables and fruit that are not sellable but are perfectly consumable from National Wholesales Markets, dairy products from companies like Danone or Yoplait, etc. But Agathe Cousin, from ANDES, says:
Food aid must not rely entirely on recuperating products that would otherwise go to waste, because this involves major logistical costs, and because providing only damaged goods or foods that are really close to their sell-by date to our consumers can stigmatise them.
The organisation cares a great deal about restoring their clients’ dignity by giving them quality choice and making them pay, just like regular customers. For Agathe Cousin, the issue of waste is much wider and cannot be solved only at the end of the chain through food aid structures. As we explained in a previous article, there is waste at every step of the way, and this problem needs to be addressed as a whole. Which also means that all the efforts to curb it count. Danone is striving to reduce waste all along its supply and production chain; partnering up with food banks is part of this overall effort.
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