Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Food waste report posted

The Value Chain Management Centre, part of the George Morris Centre, has posted a paper on food waste leading up to the Nov. 19 forum in Mississauga to discuss the challenges and opportunities.

The paper notes that about a third of the food farmers produce is wasted after it leaves their farms.

On a global scale, it’s 1.3 billion tonnes per year and doesn’t include the costs to transport, cook and dispose of the wasted food.

Martin Gooch, head of the Value Chain Management Centre, estimates that the Canadian waste is $27 billion per year, again not counting transportation, cooking and municipal landfill or composting costs.

Among other nuggets in the report, which is available on the George Morris Centre’s website, are the following:

-      - Between 25 and 30 per cent of the food produced by farmers is lost before it reaches consumers. 
Some of that never leaves farms because it fails to meet quality standards.
-       - About 20 per cent is lost at processing plants.

-      - About three per cent is lost during distribution, including damaged packages and improper temperature control.

-       - Retailers lose about 10 per cent in their stores. Some of it is because the stores order too much and some perishable products need to be trashed.

-       - Consumers waste food after they get it home, sometimes because it’s perishable, sometimes because they buy too much or decide they don’t like what they bought, etc.

-       - Agriculture uses 70 per cent of the fresh water supply in the United States, and more than a quarter of that is for food that’s wasted.

-       - The Ontario government has a regulation requiring municipalities of more than 5,000 people to compost leaves and yard waste, but has no similar regulation requiring composting of food waste.

The report misses one significant issue. Produce growers in the Bradford Marsh have lobbied the government for years to grant them a charitable donation receipt for vegetables they could give to food banks.

Because they get nothing and it costs them time, money and effort to deliver perfectly-nutritious culls that fail to meet cosmetic retailer standards, they usually plow the culls under or, if the vegetables are culled at the packinghouse, they might go to a beef feedlot.

The “Cut Waste, Grow Profit” forum will be held at the Maple Leaf Foods Thinkfood Centre at 6897 Financial Drive, Mississauga, on Nov. 19.