Researchers from four universities in Romania, Northern Macedonia and the Republic of Moldova have launched the largest survey to assess the phenomenon of food waste at a regional level. It is the first regional study on food waste in households that aims to gather over 1 million respondents. The quantitative research addressed to consumers will be completed by a qualitative research that will also target other representatives involved in the agri-food chain: producers, processors and traders.

Led by researchers from the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine in Cluj, the University of Craiova, the Technical University of Moldova (Faculty of Computers, Informatics and Microelectronics, Francophone Branch “Informatics”) and Sainte Cyrille et Méthode University in Skopje, this study is the first at such a scale, conducted simultaneously in several countries in the Central and Eastern European region. It responds to an urgent need to study the phenomenon, given that, at the level of the Republic of Moldova, there is no research on this topic, and in Romania and Macedonia, the research is insufficient and does not include representatives from the entire agri-food chain. At the same time, statistics show that about a third of the food consumed by humans worldwide is wasted, which generates significant economic and environmental expenses. In Europe alone, 89 million tons of food end up in the garbage every year and 5 million tons come from Romania, which, therefore, ranks 9th in the waste ranking, after Macedonia (8th place).

The results of the study will be utilized at the level of civil society and authorities, but also translated into actions aiming to raise awareness of all representatives involved through campaigns for influencing consumer behavior (conferences, round tables, participatory workshops, etc.).

The project is carried out in partnership with Food Waste Combat, one of the most active non-governmental organizations in Romania, which aims to raise awareness and reduce food waste in Romania.

– We support this collaboration for several reasons: there is an urgent need to better understand waste in order to take measures to reduce it. We look forward to the results collected and their application in our campaigns, says Cami, Food Waste Combat Coordinator.

The activities are an integral part of the ACTIF project “Zéro Gaspillage – pour une production et une consommation responsables en ECO” (Zero waste, for responsible production and consumption in Central and Eastern Europe) and is funded by the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie en Europe Centrale et Orientale.

– The current health crisis has once again demonstrated the importance of ensuring food sovereignty by each state and adapting all representatives involved to such a situation, by finding innovative solutions. In this context, reducing food waste is a priority. The research aims to assess the current situation regarding the fight against food waste in the three countries – Romania, Northern Macedonia and the Republic of Moldova and to propose specific actions to improve the current situation, says Dr. Cristina Bianca POCOL, USAMV Cluj Napoca, project coordinator.

Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) is the most important university network in the world with over 1000 member units from 118 countries and 59 locations spread across five continents. An expert operator in Francophone research and knowledge, created almost 60 years ago, AUF intervenes in several fields such as training, research, digital, university governance, entrepreneurship, student integration in the labor market and sustainable development. www.auf.org

The research questionnaire can be accessed here: https://bit.ly/2NCxsf5

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