Food waste is a $27-billion Canadian challenge that needs a working group to find and implement measures to reduce the losses, says a report from the Richard Ivey School of Business of the University of Western Ontario and the Value Chain Management Institute.
It recommends the working group be formed from those who were involved in the study that started in September, and that it grow by adding others who express interest.
Among those involved are the Retail Council of Canada, which speaks for the major supermarket chains, food processing companies and foodservice companies.
The federal and provincial governments provided funding via the Growing Forward 2 program.
The report says 51 per cent of the food waste in Canada occurs in households and the main reasons are buying too much, buying infrequently, throwing out food that’s past the best before date, household attitudes and over-preparation.
Fruits and vegetables top of the list of what households waste followed by meat and seafood, grain products, dairy products and beverages.
Nine per cent is lost before it gets off the farm.
Eighteen per cent is lost during processing and packaging, three per cent during distribution, 11 per cent at stores and eight per cent in restaurants and cafeterias.
The report says the industry needs a good, clear definition of food waste, that reducing waste is not a high enough priority throughout the food chain, that the leaders are large companies with deep layers of management and resources and that there is a need for more data.
The authors – Nicoleta Vizea, Martin Gooch and David Sparling – say waste reduction is not, as many companies believe, simply recycling. In addition to the food that’s lost, there are wasted energy, labour and capacity that, once they are understood, might prompt company owners to make the issue a higher priority.
They say Canadians could learn much from other countries.
The report is posted on the Value Chain Management website at www.vcm-international.com .