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MEXICO - Agriculture

María Teresa García Plata

General Director, Mexican Food banking Network (BAMX)

Bio

María Teresa García Plata holds a master in marketing from ITESM. She has seven years of experience in the tertiary sector, as director of the Mazatlán Food Bank, national director of procurement in the National Service Offices of the BAMX Network, and, currently, General Director of the BAMX Network.

"We are making important advances in our relationships with CCE and COPARMEX, among other allies."

BAMX aims to help companies reduce the cost of food storage so that they may save money and reduce waste.

What are the economic benefits of business models that reduce food waste?

There is an important benefit of working with us and being our partners, which is why we want to be part of the supply chain. We can help companies reduce the cost of food storage and products that are not going to be sold in time. In addition to reducing the cost of inventory, we also minimize the cost of destruction, given that food that will not be sold must be destroyed. We rescue the food that is still edible and integrate them into food packages that we deliver to communities for free. Meanwhile, the company receives a tax-deductible receipt from us, which is an extra benefit of working with BAMX.

BAMX has signed significant partnerships with the Business Coordination Council (CCE) and other alliances. What have been the main achievements of these partnerships?

We are making important advances in our relationships with CCE and COPARMEX, among other allies. The members of these associations actively participate in our zero-hunger working group, which is an initiative of CCE and the UN Global Compact Mexico chapter, as well as the Mexican government’s commitments to Agenda 23. Currently, we are working on specific actions regarding the five topics of the working group. For us, it has been a major challenge to define specific actions, but we now share a common crusade. We are collaborating with Pacto por La Comida as part of the zero-hunger working group. In addition, with the participation of CCE we are about to embark upon a new means of collaboration by identifying internal initiatives.

What are the main advances of your Pacto por la Comida (Pact for Food) campaign?

This is a particularly interesting and challenging initiative, with 20 signatories to date. One of our major projects, it was launched in March 2021, and the signatories encourage numerous companies and businesses to review their food donation policies and initiatives so as to increase the volume of food being donated and dedicate adequate time and logistics to realize these initiatives. We already see the realization of the projects in terms of the tonnage of food donated. When companies hear of Bimbo, Danone, Unilever, and the other signatories’ efforts, they are keen to join the process. We now intend to strike establish special projects with Walmart and Unilever in the context of Pacto por la Comida. We are keen to extend the participation of retail business and the hospitality sector to get restaurants and hotels involved in the initiative as well.

Why are people donating less food in Mexico?

We aim to have around 20,000 tons of what we call the top categories of food. I’m talking about groceries, animal protein and cereals. But right now, our allies in those sectors are dealing with challenging conditions. As a result, food donation has fallen by around 30-40% year on year. Our challenge now is to find different ways for companies to continue seeing BAMX and Pacto por La Comida as the best route to sustainability or fulfillment of their ESG strategy. There are no partners as such in this, because we are helping with a twin problem: hunger and food loss and waste. Currently, we are working on a new strategic plan of four strategic objectives. First, we want to increase our impact to expand the scope of our network. Second, we must enhance our positioning so everyone has a clear understanding of what BAMX does and what a food bank in Mexico actually is. Third, we have established a more professional board. Locally speaking we have 54 food banks, each being independent with their own boards, and we would like to see stronger boards with effective member rotation and a greater participation from local business leaders. The fourth and final objective in our strategic plan concerns collaborations with other NGOs for more effective community intervention within our sector. Everyone should be part of the solution to this problem.

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