Nearly one-third of all food produced for human consumption—approximately 1.3 billion tons—is lost or wasted from farm to fork each year. Food loss and waste tends to be insidious—some is lost on the farm, some is lost in transport, waste occurs in grocery stores and at restaurants, and some is wasted in our homes.
Food waste has economic, environmental, and social repercussions, some of which are not yet quantifiable. Financially, approximately US$1 trillion of food is wasted annually. Environmentally, food waste is a drain on water resources, takes up valuable agricultural land, and negatively impacts biodiversity. Socially, wasted food equates to food that could be eaten by vulnerable populations or growing global populations.
Food Tank is excited to highlight 28 food waste warriors—inspiring chefs, scientists, activists, academics, entrepreneurs, and others who are working to prevent food loss and waste across the globe.
1. Ximena Adriazola Du-Pont (Co-Founder and CEO, Bio Natural Solutions), Peru
Ximena Adriazola Du-Pont co-founded and is CEO of the Peru-based startup Bio Natural Solutions. She and her team created the Bio Natural Cover, a colorless, odorless spray that prolongs the shelf life of fruits. The spray is edible and is sprayed on fruits post harvest, aiming to reduce the amount of food that goes to waste.
2. Jane Ambuko (Senior Lecturer and Head of Horticulture, Department of Plant Science and Crop Protection, University of Nairobi), Kenya
Dr. Jane Ambuko is Senior Lecturer and Head of Horticulture in the Department of Plant Science and Crop Protection at the University of Nairobi. Dr. Ambuko researches postharvest technologies, with a focus on smallholder farmers in developing countries. These technologies include Coolbot, a cold storage technology that helps extend the shelf life of perishable fruits and vegetables at a low cost. Dr. Ambuko earned a Norman Borlaug Fellowship and an African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) Fellowship. She was also a member of the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) project team that authored the report on ‘Food Losses and Waste in the Context of Sustainable Food Systems.’ In addition to her teaching and researching roles, Dr. Ambuko supports capacity development in postharvest management for smallholder farmers.
3. Elijah Amoo Addo (Chef; Founder, Food for All Africa; Executive Director, Food for All Africa), Ghana
Elijah Amoo Addo launched the first community food bank in Ghana. Addo was inspired to take action in 2011 after seeing a man searching for food in the dumpster outside the restaurant where he worked as a chef. His organization, Food for All Africa, recovers surplus food from restaurants, diverting it to the food bank where it is distributed to vulnerable populations. Addo has been recognized as an emerging leader in Ghana; he was a 2017 Queen’s Young Leader award recipient and a 2017 Kumvana Fellow.
4. JoAnne Berkenkamp (Senior Advocate in the Food & Agriculture Program, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)), United States
JoAnne Berkenkamp is a Senior Advocate in the Food & Agriculture Program at the NRDC, with considerable experience working in food systems and food waste. Berkenkamp’s career in food waste was inspired by NRDC’s 2012 report “Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill.” She tackles food waste through industry-based approaches, consumer education, and policy advocacy.
5. Massimo Bottura (Chef; Founder, Food for Soul), Italy
A world renowned chef and chef patron of Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin-Star Restaurant, Massimo Bottura is also fighting food waste. In 2016, Bottura started the non-profit organization Food for Soul. Food for Soul aims to tackle the dual issue of food waste and food insecurity by creating inclusive community projects that utilize surplus food. These include Refettorios, innovative community kitchens, and Social Tables, weekly dining services offered in community spaces. Bottura also produced Bread is Gold, a recipe book that offers dishes that can be made with simple and potentially wasted ingredients.
6. Emily Broad Leib (Assistant Clinical Professor, Harvard Law School), U.S.
Emily Broad Leib’s work in food law and policy in the U.S. has earned her recognition as a national leader in the subject. Founder of Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic, Broad Leib uses her position to tackle major issues in the food system, including food waste. Her project, “Reducing Food Waste as a Key to Addressing Climate Change,” was awarded Harvard University’s Climate Change Solutions Fund in 2015. Her work on topics such as food safety regulations and food date labels, in collaboration with others at the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, has been highlighted in the media and through speaking engagements.
7. Chris Cochran (Executive Director, Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data (ReFED)), U.S.
Chris Cochran currently serves as the Executive Director of ReFED, a multi-stakeholder non-profit organization that champions food waste reduction in the U.S. Prior to joining ReFED, he was Senior Manager of Corporate Sustainability at Walmart. Leading parts of Walmart’s sustainability strategy, Cochran coordinated food waste programs, including the development of the company’s first end-to-end food waste model.
8. Karl Deily (President, Food Care, Sealed Air), U.S.
A food scientist by training, Karl Deily has led the Food Care Division at Sealed Air since 2011. The Food Care Division is responsible for creating packaging to improve food safety, extend the shelf life of foods, and reduce waste in the food supply chain. Deily has written and spoken on the topic of food waste reduction.
9. Jonathan Deutsch (Professor of Culinary Arts and Food Science, Drexel University; Founder and Director, Drexel Food Lab), U.S.
Dr. Jonathan Deutsch is a chef, author, and professor of Culinary Arts and Food Science at Drexel University. He founded and directs the Drexel Food Lab, which develops innovative solutions to food system challenges. As a James Beard Foundation Impact Program Fellow, Deutsch is leading multiple aspects of the development of a training program on food waste prevention for culinary school instructors.
10. Oscar Ekponimo (Founder, Chowberry), Nigeria
Oscar Ekponimo developed the app Chowberry to facilitate the redistribution of surplus food to the hungry in Nigeria. In grocery stores and supermarkets, barcodes on food products link to the cloud-based app, with the item’s price decreasing as it nears the end of its shelf life. These discounts are visible to low-income individuals and charities, who then redistribute the food to populations in need. In addition to his work for Chowberry, Ekponimo personally distributes food near its expiration date to orphanages and senior centers. Ekponimo has been recognized for his efforts, being named a 2016 Rolex Young Laureate in Applied Technology and a 2017 Time Magazine Next Generation Leader.
11. Rafael Flor (Director, YieldWise, The Rockefeller Foundation), U.S.
Rafael Flor is Director of the Rockefeller Foundation Yieldwise Initiative. Yieldwise was launched in 2016 to demonstrate how food loss reduction can be achieved in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Flor has 20 years of experience working in international development, including contributing to hunger eradication programs with the World Food Programme.
12. Dana Gunders (Author; Founder, Next Course, LLC), U.S.
Dana Gunders is an author and scientist, referred to by Consumer Reports as “the woman who helped start the food waste movement.” While working as a Senior Scientist at NRDC, she authored a major report on food waste entitled “Wasted: How America is Losing up to 40% of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill.” Gunders also wrote the Waste Free Kitchen Handbook, and is now working as an independent contractor providing consulting services to organizations looking to reduce their food waste. She is on ReFED’s Steering Committee.
13. David Hertz (Chef; Founder, Gastromotiva), Brazil
David Hertz is the chef behind Gastromotiva, a Brazil-based organization that incorporates principles of social inclusion into gastronomy. Gastromotiva provides free vocational kitchen training, classes in entrepreneurship, and nutrition education to disadvantaged individuals. It was opened in Brazil in 2006, and has since expanded its operations to El Salvador, South Africa, and Mexico. In 2016, Hertz collaborated with Chef Massimo Bottura to open Refettorio Gastromotiva, a food waste school and restaurant that launched in Rio de Janeiro alongside the Olympic Games. In the same year, Hertz started the Social Gastronomy Movement, aiming to share positive gastronomy practices around the globe.
14. Lisa Kitinoja (Founder, Postharvest Education Foundation; Principal Consultant, Postharvest Innovations LLC), U.S.
Dr. Lisa Kitinoja is a consultant with expertise in postharvest technology and food loss reduction and nearly four decades of experience in the agricultural sector. She was Principal Consultant of Extension Systems International from 1990 until 2011, and has held the same role with Postharvest Innovations LLC since 2011. Dr. Kitinoja has worked in many developing countries, providing technical assistance and training related to postharvest losses. In 2011, she founded a non-profit organization called The Postharvest Education Foundation (PEF). PEF provides training and mentoring related to postharvest losses, including e-learning programs, workshops, equipment provision, and event sponsorship.
15. Edoh Ognakossan Kukom (Production and Postharvest Specialist – Mali Horticulture Scaling Project, World Vegetable Center, West and Central Africa – Dry Regions), Mali
Edoh Ognakossan Kukom works as Production and Postharvest Specialist for the Mali Horticulture Scaling Project at the World Vegetable Center. He joined WorldVeg in 2017 after spending several years working as a research assistant and consultant on postharvest losses. His research interests include postharvest management of staple crops, as well as food loss reduction and value addition in the food value chain.
16. Nicholas Lim, Tylor Jong, and Jiacai Lau (Co-founders, TreeDots), Singapore
Nicholas Lim, Tylor Jong, and Jiacai Lau founded TreeDots, “Asia’s First Online Outlet Mall for Food.” Having previously worked in finance, these three entrepreneurs developed TreeDots as a B2B marketplace to connect people with unsold food inventory. With goals to expand into other countries in Asia, they are encouraging consumers to embrace imperfect foods.
17. Brian Lipinski (Associate in the Food Program, World Resources Institute (WRI)), U.S.
Brian Lipinski is an Associate in the Food Program at WRI. He works on the Food Loss and Waste Protocol, a standard for measuring and reporting on food loss and waste. The Protocol aims to better quantify food loss and waste, leading to better practices for waste reduction. Lipinski also serves as secretariat of the Protocol, and represents WRI on its Upstream Technical Working Group, which assess losses at the production stage.
18. Mark Little (Head of Food Waste Reduction, and Head of Sustainability, Sourcing, and Waste Policy, Tesco PLC), U.K.
A leader in food waste reduction strategy at global supermarket chain Tesco PLC, Mark Little developed and implements Tesco’s Food Waste Reduction Programme. He is responsible for leading efforts in food waste reduction at the household, operational, and supply chain levels. Tesco has implemented several food waste reduction initiatives under Little’s guidance, including: using cloud-based software to donate surplus food; stopping buy one, get one free deals in favor of promotions that allow customers to select from a range of products; launching a Perfectly Imperfect line of wonky fruit and vegetables; and, most recently, the removal of best before dates from up to 70 fruit and vegetable lines.
19. Roseline Marealle (Postharvest Research Associate/Nutritionist, World Vegetable Center, Eastern and Southern Africa), Tanzania
Roseline Marealle spent four years working for the World Vegetable Center, where she carried out activities and research on postharvest losses. Her involvement included organizing research experiments, carrying out training related to postharvest handling, storage, and processing of vegetable crops, and more. Notably, she trained communities on construction and use of Zero Energy Cool Chambers (ZECC) and solar drying of vegetables. Marealle was awarded the 2016 Kader Award for Postharvest Training by the Postharvest Education Foundation.
20. Bertha Mjawa (Value Addition Specialist, Market Infrastructure, Value Addition and Rural Finance (MIVARF) project), Tanzania
Bertha Mjawa is a postharvest specialist with nearly four decades of experience in this area. She has been referred to as the ‘crop saving champion of Tanzania’ for her initiative in tackling postharvest food loss both as a government employee and an independent consultant. Mjawa has led research programs, training initiatives, and consultancies related to postharvest management and technologies. She is currently on the board of directors for the Postharvest Education Foundation.
21. Christine Moseley (Founder and CEO, Full Harvest), U.S.
Christine Moseley is tackling on-farm food waste through her web-based start-up, Full Harvest. She founded Full Harvest in 2016, following years of experience in the logistics and food industry. Full Harvest is an online marketplace that connects farmers with surplus or imperfect produce to food and beverage companies. Moseley was named one of Fortune’s 2017 ‘Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink’ and received the 2017 Unilever Young Entrepreneur Award.
22. Regina Northouse (Executive Director, Food Recovery Network), U.S.
Regina Northouse is Executive Director of the Food Recovery Network (FRN), a student-led initiative turned non-profit organization that drives food recovery in higher education. With a background in non-profit work and a passion for social justice issues, Northouse is developing the vision, strategy, and fundraising efforts for FRN. Northouse is driven by the understanding that people in America should not be going to bed hungry or be unsure of where their next meal is coming from.
23. Pete Pearson (Director of Food Waste, WWF; Co-Founder, Idaho Center for Sustainable Agriculture (ICSA)), U.S.
Pete Pearson is the Director of Food Waste at the WWF. His focal areas are food waste prevention and food recovery, with an emphasis on helping businesses understand how agricultural production and wildlife conservation intersect. Pearson’s work extends to the hospitality industry, for which he co-developed a toolkit that provides strategies for preventing, donating, and diverting food waste. He has worked on sustainability programs with the retail grocery sector, and as a sustainability consultant with public schools and hospitals. He also co-produced a documentary film on local farmers, and is co-founder of ICSA, a nonprofit organization that does work on sustainable agriculture.
24. Michael Reid & James Thompson (Co-inventors, DryCard), U.S.
Dr. Michael Reid and James Thompson co-invented DryCard, a low-cost innovation that allows farmers to test the moisture content of their dried food products. The card changes color based on humidity, and can help prevent food spoilage and loss. Thompson is a Postharvest Specialist Emeritus at the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Reid is Leader of Innovation and Technology at the Horticulture Innovation Lab at UC Davis. Both Dr. Reid and Thompson have worked on postharvest technologies with the goal of reducing crop losses. Their innovation, inspired by a trip to a market in Tanzania, won the 2017 All-Africa Postharvest Technologies and Innovation Challenge.
25. James Rogers (Science Director & CEO, Apeel Sciences), U.S.
Dr. James Rogers is Science Director and CEO of Apeel Sciences. Apeel Sciences develops plant-based coatings that help food stay fresh longer, reducing post harvest losses and food waste. Rogers founded Apeel while completing his PhD at the University of California; his commute through California farmland planted the seed that inspired him to research a way to prevent food spoilage.
26. Andrew Shakman (Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, LeanPath), U.S.
Andrew Shakman is the co-founder and CEO of LeanPath, an Oregon-based foodservice technology company. He advocates for food waste prevention and works with culinary teams, empowering them to reduce their waste. LeanPath uses specialized technology to measure food waste, analyze the data, and generate recommendations for food waste reduction. The company has tracked over 9078 tons of food waste since its inception in 2004. Shakman co-invented the U.S. Patent “Systems & Methods for Food Waste Monitoring”; has been acknowledged for his influence in the foodservice industry; and has spoken at conferences and events on the topic.
27. Tristram Stuart (Author; Speaker; Campaigner; Founder, Feedback), U.K.
Tristram Stuart is an author, speaker, and campaigner, with expertise in the environmental and social impacts of food production. His 2009 book, Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal, spoke to the need for a 50 percent reduction target for food waste. Stuart has organized several campaigns and events through his environmental campaigning organization, Feedback. These include: Feeding the 5000, a communal feast made with rescued food; the Pig Idea, a campaign encouraging the European Union to lift a ban on feeding food waste to pigs; and the Gleaning Network, a volunteer initiative to rescue fruit and vegetables from being wasted on farms. In addition to being an SDG Champion 12.3, Stuart is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, an Ashoka Fellow, and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer.
28. Marc Zornes and Kevin Duffy (Co-Founders, Winnow Solutions), U.K.
Business consultant turned entrepreneur Marc Zornes, along with co-founder Kevin Duffy, shows how food waste reduction can be profitable for the hospitality industry. Their startup, Winnow, uses technology to monitor food waste in kitchens. Food waste is measured and recorded, generating information on the type, quantity, and value of the waste. The data generated shows clients where improvements can be made.