Food loss and waste (FLW) is one of the greatest food system challenges that we face today. An estimated one-third of food produced globally is ultimately lost or wasted along the supply chain.1 This amounts to approximately 1.3 billion tons of food each year that ends up in landfills.2 At the same time, current data indicate that between 720 and 811 million people were hungry in 20203 and that more than 2 billion people were unable to regularly access safe, nutritious food in 2019.4 Thoughtful public policies can help address these troubling trends and augment food system resilience, aiding in food recovery for social benefit and mitigating the environmental costs of excess production and loss.
FLW occurs at every stage of the supply chain and generates significant social, environmental, and economic costs. Food that is ultimately lost or wasted has a huge carbon footprint of 3.3 gigatons,5 using roughly 28% of agricultural land6 and accounting for 8%, or 70 billion tons, of total global greenhouse gas emissions.7 Collectively, this damage costs approximately 389.63 trillion Nigerian nairas (NGN, ₦), or US$924.2 billion per year.8 The international community has sought to address this paradox and mobilize the reduction of food waste, especially within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.3.9.
In many countries, food donation has emerged as a popular and logical solution to redirect safe, surplus food destined for landfills into the hands of those who need it most. Most food donations are facilitated through food banks or other charitable, nongovernmental organizations that recover surplus, wholesome food and redirect it to local beneficiary agencies (such as soup kitchens, shelters, and community pantries) to feed low-income, food-insecure persons. As food insecurity and FLW continue to rise, new and innovative models of food recovery have emerged around the world.
However, uncertainty surrounds the laws and regulations most relevant to food donation. To help address the most pressing questions, the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) and The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) have partnered to create The Global Food Donation Policy Atlas.10 This innovative partnership maps the laws and policies affecting donations in several countries around the world. The project aims to identify and explain national laws relating to food donation, analyze the most common legal barriers to promoting greater food donation, and share best practices and recommendations for overcoming these barriers.
This Legal Guide focuses on Nigeria, where approximately 40% of food produced is lost after harvest,11 even while nearly 116 million people are moderately or severely food insecure.12 FLPC and GFN, in collaboration with partners in Nigeria,13 have developed this resource to help food donors, food banks, and other intermediaries (hereinafter collectively referred to as “food recovery organizations”) understand the relevant legal frameworks that impact food waste and donation efforts in Nigeria. This Legal Guide also serves as a resource for individuals and institutions in other countries that are looking to inform their own food donation laws and policies.
THE PROJECT AIMS TO IDENTIFY AND EXPLAIN NATIONAL LAWS RELATING TO FOOD DONATION, ANALYZE THE MOST COMMON LEGAL BARRIERS TO PROMOTING GREATER FOOD DONATION AND SHARE BEST PRACTICES AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR OVERCOMING THESE BARRIERS.
After providing initial commentary on food loss and recovery in Nigeria, this Legal Guide provides an overview of the legal frameworks most relevant to food donation at the national and local levels. The subsequent sections look more closely at the laws generally applicable to food donation: food safety laws and regulations, food date labeling laws, “Good Samaritan” or liability protection laws, tax incentives for food donation and/or tax policy disincentives, waste diversion laws that penalize food waste or require donation or recovery, national food waste policies or strategies, government grants and incentives for donation, and other miscellaneous laws relevant to food waste mitigation and food donation. The extent to which Nigeria has developed and subsequently implemented these legal frameworks compared to other countries