Food manufacturers and retailers must work together to tackle waste throughout the supply chain, the chief executive of Northern Foods, the UK group, said today (22 October).

Stefan Barden said reducing waste from farm to fork was just as vital in feeding the world's booming population as ramping up food production.

Last week, the UN suggested that global food output must increase by 70% by 2050 if it is to meet the needs of the growing world population.

However, Barden, the boss of a business producing brands like Fox's biscuits as well as private-label lines for retailers like Marks and Spencer, said the industry as a whole needed to also focus on waste.

"Clearly, it is as much about using less as it is about growing more," Barden told the IGD's Packaging & Product Resource Efficiency conference. "And collaboration is more attractive than hand-to-hand combat."

Wider use of GM foods has been put forward as a solution to feed a growing world but Barden, while acknowledging that there were no safety issues around genetic modification, insisted manufacturers and retailers recognised consumers are still reluctant to embrace the concept.