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The 4 Sources of Food Waste

  •   April 6th, 2015
  •   Category: News
  •   Posted by: Ecodyger

So far, in our blog, we have always taken care of waste, environment, composting, good habits, but it seems right and proper to treat even one of the greatest scourges of modern society: food waste. We are always busy every day in a busy life without realizing that large quantities of food that could be eaten or have other uses are inevitably wasted. How can we take action to reduce the amount of food we waste, to save money and natural resources and help the company to ensure that those in need are fed?

How much food do we waste every year?

FAO, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, reports that there are 222 million tons of food thrown in industrialized countries, a frightening figure equal to the food production in Sub-Saharan Africa. The worst thing is that the food is wasted at all stages of the food chain from farm to table, from producers, workers, retailers, caterers and consumers.

In Europe, an estimated 89 million tons of food are discarded every year.

The food waste in Italy has an economic value of around 13 billion euro per year. It is not surprising that the reduction of food waste is high on the agenda of the EU institutions.

The European Parliament called for immediate collective action to halve food waste by 2025 and the European Commission works for this reduction by 2020, the food being one of the top priorities in the “Roadmap to a resource-efficient Europe ” or a paper of intent leading to efficient Europe in resource management.

This ambition requires joint efforts by the entire food chain and at the same time, reducing waste also requires major changes in consumer behavior. In wealthy nations of Europe, a large portion of wasted food is thrown away by households, not talking about crumbs but as many as 37 million tons yearly. For these reasons, are now in place extensive investigations on food waste across Europe.

Many data are from the United Kingdom, where it is estimated that 60% of waste in households could be avoided, and the end result is an average of 480 pounds or more than 670 euro saving per household annually. In addition, the estimated environmental savings are equivalent to removing 1 to 5 cars from the road with relative reduction of CO2 emissions.

Food losses VS Food Waste

It is important and possible to distinguish two types of waste:

Food losses or losses which occur upstream of the food chain, mainly being:

  • sowing
  • cultivation
  • collection
  • treatment
  • conservation
  • first agricultural transformation

Food waste or waste that occur during:

  • Industrial processing
  • Distribution
  • Final consumption

So, losses and wastage of food occur at different levels of the path, from production to final consumption.

The 4 Sources of Food Waste

1) may occur at the level of production and harvest, due to:

  • Bad weather
  • Diseases or infestations
  • Defects in the system of cultivation
  • Defects in the transportation system

2) It can occur during processing of the products, which produces waste of food production.

3) They can also take place during the wholesale distribution, where food remains unsold because it doesn’t corresponds to the aesthetic and quality of buyers.

4) They occur in last at the catering and domestic consumptionThey create food waste because of excessive portions, the non-eat food before the expiry date and difficult to interpret the label and the information relating to the consummation

Source: SlowFood.

Why do we waste?

While for the Developing country there is much to be done to reduce losses in the first part of the food chain called “Food loses”; in developed countries, the major problems are in the process of consummation be it food or household consumption

There are many explanations as to why the food being wasted; these differ between sectors of the food chain. The standardized data on food waste are deficient and difficult to collect, especially in the manufacturing and sales. Even food waste in agriculture deserves further research.

Waste in production: The majority of this deviation is seemingly inevitable: many waste are unavoidable or derived from technical factors that lead to over-production, products deformed or damaged.

Waste logistics management: The wholesalers and vendors face challenges of logistics, including warehouse management: anticipating demand and correct stocks, to meet the increasing expectations on product quality and coordination between sectors.

Waste in families and restaurants kitchens: In this context, the main explanations for throwing away food, avoidable waste, is because it is left in the plates, left during cooking or not used in time and / or before the expiration date. Here, the waste is related to the awareness and attitudes of individuals, and practice management skills of food such as planning, portioning and storage. In particular, the causes of family waste may vary depending on the climate, the socio-economic status, culture, for example the consolidated habit to generously prepare more food than can be eaten and to have leftover food.

Aspects of particular importance

Expiration dates on food labels are one of the most important information as appears to be sought after by European consumers. The consumer research in the UK and Ireland emphasizes the confusion of the dates on the labeling; the result is that about a third of the food is discarded before the expiration date.

Even the practices of conservation show room for improvement. Most fruits and vegetables will keep longer if refrigerated. However, only 23% of consumers say they want to preserve the fresh fruit and 53% fresh vegetables in the fridge. Many of these, would leave food not sealed or free, open-air, heedless that this could reduce the freshness or otherwise, would put the bread in the refrigerator knowing that what it does become stale and rancid faster.