One third of all food production is being wasted. Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 asks to reduce food waste with 50% bij 2030, because food waste has an enormous impact on our environment. At the zero waste hierarchy above, you will find a list of ways to value residual flows, ordered from best (avoiding food waste) to worse (dumping it). Besides this zero waste hierachy, you will find a chart that shows how much food the different participants in the food chain are wasting. Underneath, we will describe per participant how much food is being wasted and why it happens.
Food Service Industry
Food waste already happens in the beginning of the food chain. Producers are responsible for 39% of the wastage, which means that these products won’t even make it to the supermarkets and food service industries. This producing group consists out of farmers, cultivators, factories, product packagers and trade intermediaries. There are various reasons for them to throw away products: crop losses, overproduction or odd sizes and looks are just a few examples. Customers prefer the prettiest products, even though a crooked cucumber tastes the same as its straight sibling! The question remains: what happens to the surplus of food that’s often totally fine, albeit with a flawed appearance? We believe there should be a market for these products as well.
At Instock, we pick up products from producers such as fish traders and meat packages. Hopefully, more initiatives that value these surplus products will arise. Think about it: throwing away food doesn’t only cost money. The energy that has been put into the cultivation, the packaging, the transportation and the refrigeration of the food goes to waste just as well! That’s a pity, right?
Supermarkets are liable for about 5% of all food wastage. Among the causes are judgmental errors concerning supply and demand (which would lead to an excess of products), and overly high quality standards. Besides, consumers often give products like a small zucchini or a blemished cauliflower the cold shoulder. Crafty ordering systems that can measure the expected demand have been created to prevent wastage from happening. Has this demand still been overestimated? No worries: discount stickers are a good way to stimulate the sale of these surplus products. Another approach to reduce waste is the digital development of apps like No Food Wasted.
Is it realistic to strive for supermarkets without any food waste though? The average consumer longs for an abundance of choice and the most alluring products, while the supermarket aspires to gain happy customers and a good revenue. These demands go hand in hand with the responsibility to find high-quality second destinations for surplus products. It’s important to split unsold products into a usable and unusable category. Sounds simple, right? In reality, it’s a little bit more complex. Due to the food safety legislation, it’s important to be aware of what’s allowed and what’s not. Besides, it takes a lot of coordination to change such a process in a supermarket. The logistical challenge to transport all of these products from the supermarkets to a different destination is another thing one has to take into account. However… it is possible! We happily take up the challenge.
Even though supermarkets have a relatively small share in the process of wastage, they are an important part of the food chain. Supermarkets determine the quality standards for producers and cultivators. Moreover, they influence their customers’ contribution to food waste. This kind of responsibility is becoming more visible and acknowledged, but there’s always more to gain!
Food Service Industry
The food service industry also has a share in the issue of food waste. Around 14% of all wastage takes place in restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, and so on. Much of this wastage is to blame on overly large portions, strict food safety demands, inadequate stock acquisition or a lack of creativity to make use of decent products in different dishes An organization that helps enterprises in the food service industry to handle their wastage better is Wastewatchers. At Instock, we’re obviously extra focused on our own waste management. It all starts with preventing food waste; our chefs try their best by using as much of a product as they possibly can. Did you know that the foliage of carrots makes for a delicious fried snack? And how about creating seasoning powder from the pulp of a spin juicer? Thinking outside the box can be the start of an exciting new product! Moreover, we try to avoid throwing away leftover food by simply not serving too much food on a plate. If you have the munchies, it’s always possible to order a portion of fries. Another way in which we manage our waste is by separating the kitchen garbage. This way, we can make sure that the waste will be processed into products like biogas or fodder, for as good as possible.
Most food is wasted at households: about 42% of all wastage! This comes down to an annual amount of 105 kilos of food waste per household. However, it can be really fun, easy and delicious to fight this waste of food! With these ten tips, you’ll soon be the master of the anti-waste ins and outs. Let’s go!
1. Check what’s in stock before doing groceries.
You often have more than you think! Avoid buying too many products and take a look in the fridge before you head to the supermarket.
2. Make a shopping list.
Yes, we know! Supermarkets are filled to the brim with temptations. By doing groceries with a shopping list, you’re less inclined to impulsively buy these products. Only write down what you really need; you’ll notice that you waste less and have more money left at the end of the month.
3. Measurement brings knowledge!
Use a measuring cup for products like rice, pasta et cetera. It will help you to estimate how much food you actually need, which leads to… indeed, less waste!
4. Look, smell and taste before throwing something away.
A wrong interpretation of a product’s best before date is one of the most important causes for food waste. This date is only the quality guarantee of the producer, but it shouldn’t be confused with an expiration date (they do provide the ultimate date for consumption). Just trust your senses before throwing something away.
5. Store food at the right temperature.
Did you know that it’s best to store your tomatoes outside of the fridge? And that 4 degrees Celsius (39°F) is the right temperature for a fridge?
6. First in, first out.
Use first whatever has been in your fridge the longest. It’s pretty self-evident, but choose the ripe banana over the green one and don’t open a new package of cheese if there’s already an open one!
7. Give your products a second life by preserving them.
Fermenting, pickling and curing… It might be something you only vaguely know because your grandma talks about it. It’s a lot easier and more fun than you might think though! Store half a cucumber in a jar with vinegar, water, sugar and chilli peppers and it’ll be the perfect fresh addition to any rice dish. Want to learn more about preservation techniques? Take a look at our cook book!
8. Store your leftovers in well-secured containers.
Do you have leftovers? Lucky you! Store it well (we all have those solid plastic containers), and it will be the perfect meal for when you don’t feel like cooking a few days later.
9. Sharing is caring!
Your friends, neighbors and grandparents are just a few examples of people who’d love to enjoy your cooking skills. Did you know there are apps available on which you can offer your own meals? This goes the other way around as well: take a look when you’re too tired to cook!
10. Rejoyce the animals at your local children’s farm with your leftovers!
There’s one catch: make sure they are allowed to eat what you made, otherwise the joy won’t last for long.