Sealed Air (NYSE:SEE) Chief Executive Officer, William V. Hickey, addressed members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai on the issue of food safety and sustainability during a keynote speech on Monday, September 10, 2012. Hickey told attendees that as the global demand for food increases, there urgently needs to be a change of thinking and a sense of urgency to tackle the three most pressing issues facing the world’s food supply –– food safety, food waste and food access. In his speech, Hickey said, “We are producing more than enough food to feed the planet, yet hundreds of millions of people are starving every day. We have made significant advances in technology and distribution, but food contamination is still a large societal problem with fatal consequences, regardless of wealth. And today we are more conscious of the impact our actions have on the environment, yet we throw away billions of tons of food a year that rots in landfills releasing methane gas into the atmosphere.” Hickey included several statistics to highlight the growing issues of food safety, food waste and food access, including:
- World Health Organization estimates that foodborne and waterborne diarrheal diseases together kill about 2.2 million people annually, 1.9 million of whom are children.
- Nearly 40% of the food produced in the world is never eaten and its production consumes 300 million of barrels of oil per year. This food is responsible for one quarter of all freshwater consumption and represents $160 billion per year in cost.
- Nearly one billion among the world’s seven billion people are hungry, yet according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, the world has never lived in a time when food has been in more abundance.
A few examples where Hickey said collaboration could have immediate positive impact included:
- A fair international trading system, because trade is vastly more powerful than aid.
- Standardized means of collecting and analyzing data to better understand foodborne [See comment above.] illness and global standards for food safety and accountability
- Health and Hygiene companies supporting more education, mentoring and training programs
- Food companies and retailers improving nutrition through education programs, particularly for mothers of young children in Africa.
- Packaging companies deploying systems to extend the available food supply to more effectively meet the needs of growing populations.
- At the manufacturing and food processing levels, Sealed Air provides solutions that reduce the risk of contamination, protect workers’ health, and reduce waste, such as yield loss of food.
- At the retail level, Sealed Air is focused on both the front and the back of the store with solutions that extend the shelf life of food, provide value added merchandise appeal and convenience features, and create a healthy and clean environment by integrating cleaning chemicals, floor care equipment, cleaning tools, and a wide range of value-added services.
- At the consumer level, Sealed Air focuses on reducing food waste in homes with solutions that provide portioning options that help addresses over-purchasing or over-preparation of perishable foods.