Christmas highlights food security gap
As we start to head home for our festive meals, it’s worth giving some thought to the many people on our doorstep who struggle to access quality nutrition, argues Karin Gerbens of the regional communications team.

Christmas is an enjoyably indulgent time for many of us. People across Europe are fortunate enough to plan their festive meals in the knowledge that there is an abundance of choice. It’s very easy to take it for granted that food is readily available and within our financial reach. And perhaps we’re guilty of taking this for granted a little too easily. The UK – the most wasteful of (current) EU member states1  – throws away the equivalent of 4.2 million meals on Christmas Day.

Across the wider continent, the EU wastes an estimated 22m tonnes of food each year – that’s more than a ton for each of the 20 million households in Europe who are unable to afford a high-quality meal every other day.2

And we’re not talking about gourmet dining here  – ‘high quality’ is simply defined as one with meat, fish or a vegetarian equivalent, which equates to better overall health, increased productivity and brain function. For many Europeans, it can be a shock that this kind of food insecurity is happening so close to home, in the developed world.

So what’s the answer? Waste is an issue at every step of the supply chain, but each of us can be more mindful of what we throw away at this time of year. But clearly there are bigger measures needed.

Working with our partners in food production, we need to work smarter and produce more food using fewer resources.
This means supporting and empowering farmers, food producers and consumers to make sustainable, thoughtful choices that protect the food chain and our shared environment.

It’s also about everyone in that supply chain embracing new technologies and approaches. It’s been estimated that by implementing innovative techniques, we can raise fewer than 1.7bn cattle and water buffalo by 2050, but still produce 43 per cent more beef.3 
These innovations would also freeze the environmental footprint of production.

We have quite a few Christmases between now and 2050. The responsibility of everyone in the animal health community is to make every year count in taking the right steps towards a sustainable, food secure future.

Find out more about Elanco’s Enough initiative here.

2. Eurostat. EU-SILC Survey data, % of the population unable to afford a meal with meat, fish, chicken or a vegetarian equivalent every second day, 2013; recalculated for number of households. Source: Eurostat, EU-SILC Survey. URL:

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