Budapest is the capital and most populous city of Hungary. It is the ninth-largest city in the European Union (EU) by population, which is about 1 752 286 over a land area of about 525 square kilometres. Budapest forms the centre of the Budapest metropolitan area, which has a population of 3 303 786, comprising 33% of the population of Hungary.
The National Food Chain Safety Office (Nébih)
Nébih is the integrated food safety authority of Hungary, responsible for the control of the whole food chain from farm to fork, including soil protection, agricultural production, forestry, food processing, retail and catering. The organisation is very active in social debates (round tables, conferences, press activity) and consumer communication (information and awareness campaigns, risk communication) with a special focus on sustainable consumption. A few years ago National Food Chain Safety Office (NFCSO) was identified as the most credible national level food control authority in the EU, according to European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Food losses and waste
About 1.8 million tonnes of food waste is produced annually in Hungary. A significant proportion of this – about one third – is produced by households. According to the results of national research, it means that each person wastes 65kg annually, with more than third of it considered avoidable.
Meals, fresh fruits, vegetables, bakery products and dairy products account for 84% of the avoidable mass. While Hungary is less wasteful than other countries and has reduced household food waste by 24% (between 2016 and 2021), the avoidable mass still accounts for a major part of Hungarian customers’ spend on groceries. Altogether we have to factor 245 000 tonnes of biodegradable waste, which has a serious impact on our environment, considering not only its destruction but the process of production as well.
Wasteless – The national level food waste prevention programme of Hungary
Recognising the problem of food waste, Nébih started its ’Wasteless’ programme (with the financial support of the EU’s LIFE programme) in order to decrease the amount of Hungarian food wasted.
To achieve this, the following actions have been implemented since 2016:
- Awareness raising communication campaign for adult consumers which reached more than 120 million consumers
- Organising a school programme to increase the awareness of food waste prevention among primary school students. This action is necessary for raising the awareness of the future generations with regards to food waste prevention. The school programme reached almost 500 000 children
- Collecting the best practices for food waste prevention in four different sectors of the food chain (food processors, food retailers, restaurants and NGOs)
- Collaboration and cooperation with other EU member states, in order to contribute to the international implementation of the project’s results
- Monitoring the impact of the awareness raising campaign by measuring the food waste generated in Hungarian households based on the EU recommended methodology
Nébih conducted the first household food waste measurement study in the Eastern part of Europe in 2016. We repeated the measurement in 2019 and 2021. We also organise quantitative consumer surveys regularly. The results of these studies are here:
- Kunszabó, A., Szakos, D., Dorkó, A., Farkas, Cs., & Kasza, Gy. (2022). Household food waste composting habits and behaviours in Hungary: a segmentation study. Sustainable Chemistry and Pharmacy, 30, 100839
- Szakos, D., Szabó-Bódi, B., & Kasza, Gy. (2021). Consumer awareness campaign to reduce household food waste based on structural equation behavior modeling in Hungary. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 28(19), 24580-24589
- Kasza, Gy., Dorkó, A., Kunszabó, A., & Szakos, D. (2020). Quantification of household food waste in Hungary: A replication study using the FUSIONS methodology. Sustainability, 12(8), 3069
- Kasza, Gy., Szabó-Bódi, B., Lakner, Z., & Izsó, T. (2019). Balancing the desire to decrease food waste with requirements of food safety. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 84, 74-76
- Szabó-Bódi, B., Kasza, Gy., & Szakos, D. (2018). Assessment of household food waste in Hungary. British Food Journal. 120 (3) 625-638
Nébih is a member of the Food is Value Forum, which is the most important stakeholder forum in Hungary about food waste reduction. It also engages with policy makers, therefore helping to achieve many important direct policy impacts over the previous years. The coordinator of the project Wasteless is also the member of the Supervisory Board of the Food is Value Forum.
The project’s results became the most important reference point in the Hungarian food waste debates and inspired several other initiatives. Wasteless has been declared to be the national level food waste prevention programme of Hungary by The Food is Value Forum in 2020 (a national level stakeholder forum concerned with food waste).
Operating a national food waste prevention programme is one of the key recommendations of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste with regards to food waste reduction.
Since 2019 the coordinator of the project Wasteless has been the national representative of Hungary in the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste, which provides a great opportunity to reach international stakeholders (policy makers, NGOs and committed companies).
The newly formulated European Consumer Food Waste Forum organised by the EU Commission, the Joint Research Centre in collaboration with DG SANTE nominated the project manager of Project Wasteless as a core expert. This gathers data and identifies various evidence-based, practical solutions to reduce food waste at the consumer level, including household and food services. These will contribute to the work of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste and that of other players to help reduce consumer food waste.
Interest in joining FOODRUS
The main interests of Nébih to join FOODRUS project as Associated Region are to:
- improve the Hungarian methodologies for the reduction of food losses and waste
- increase the impact of the results reached within the project Wasteless
- share the most important lessons learnt during the implementation of the project Wasteless with FOODRUS partners
- find more solutions to prevent food waste, especially on the consumer level
- reach a wider range of young population with the messages about the importance of food waste prevention