The food industry should urgently address food access, food safety and food waste as its core priorities, according to Sealed Air Corporation president and chief executive officer Jerome Peribere.
He was speaking at the inaugural Sirha World Cuisine Summit in Lyon, France, which was organized to identify and assess trends in the foodservice and restaurant trade.
"At every step in the food supply chain - from farm to fork - there is the risk for contamination, damage and waste," said Peribere. "We must urgently address three pressing issues facing our food supply chain in order to alleviate these risks."
Singling out food safety as one of the priority areas, he said despite significant advances in technology and distribution, food contamination still ran rampant in society.
Nearly 2.2m people killed annually
He cited World Health Organisation data estimating that food-born and water-born diarrheal diseases combined kill nearly 2.2m people annually.
Referring to a second priority area, food waste, Peribere said that each year billions of tonnes of food waste were thrown into landfill, releasing methane gas, contributing to global warming.
The wasted food in the US alone cost 300m barrels of oil to produce and handle, was responsible for a quarter of all freshwater consumption and represented $160bn in loss, he said.
Finally, he added food access as a third priority. More than enough food was being produced to feed everyone on the planet, yet there was unequal availability of that food, with some suffering famine and others struggling with obesity, he said.
Sealed Air aimed to address these issues through its SmartLife business strategy, targeting supply chain sustainability through packaging, cleaning and hygiene solutions, he said.
At the manufacturing and processing level, these were designed to reduce contamination, preserve nutritional value and slash waste.
"If we can collectively bring our resources and expertise together, everyone can share in a thriving planet with access to safe and nutritional food," Peribere added. "Sealed Air is committed to this ongoing vision of sustainability by helping people around the world eat better and lead healthier lives."