Nov 10, 2016 at 03:30 PM
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that 30% of the world’s food supply goes to waste, ending up in landfill or composters. This is a staggering figure considering there are still millions of people on our planet who go hungry on a daily basis. Europe has named 2014 the European Year Against Food Waste and set a target to cut food waste in half by 2025. We have yet to see a matching coordinated approach in Canada—one that could reduce the $27 billion worth of food that annually goes to waste in this country.
Provision commissioned researchers at the Ivey School of Business and Value Chain Management Centre to map the food waste challenge in the context of Ontario’s and Canada’s agri-food industry and develop a coordinated strategy for tackling the challenge in Canada. The resulting report, Developing an Industry Led Approach to Addressing Food Waste in Canada, details a number of key findings about food waste and recommends the formation of a collaborative industry working group to address the food waste issue across the food value chain.
Highlights of the Food Waste Report
One of the key findings revealed that there is no commonly agreed upon definition of food waste in Canada, and therefore, no common measures of waste and its impact on businesses and the environment. As a result, businesses fail to prioritize food waste reduction because they do not know how much food they are wasting and its real impact on profitability.
With a better understanding of the full range of wastes associated with food waste (e.g. energy, water, labour, production capacity, etc.), organizations can see how much money is truly being lost – the hidden value of food waste. The pioneers in reducing food waste tend to be larger businesses with the resources to invest in this issue, leaving smaller businesses at a disadvantage. A collaborative effort across industry stakeholders can address this gap and provide a coordinated strategy that will guide all businesses with reducing food waste.
Most businesses are focused on waste diversion (mainly recycling) rather than source reduction and maximizing the value from waste. In reality, the best way to manage food waste is to reduce it, followed by redistributing items for human consumption (e.g., donating to a charitable cause). Without better knowledge and know-how, Canadian businesses will remain unmotivated to seek the business opportunities associated with food waste reduction.
Not to be left out of a coordinated solution are consumers—the largest segment of the food value chain contributing to food waste in Canada. It’s imperative that any strategy also educate and engage consumers to tackle our national food waste issue.
Provision Coalition on Food Waste
Addressing the social, environmental and economic impacts of food waste is a top priority for Provision Coalition. The findings from this study have lead Provision to take an active role in the formation of a collaborative Food Waste working group that includes industry, solution providers, government and the entire food value chain. The goal is be to develop effective strategies and solutions to address the issues outlined in the report. The long term objective for Provision is to enable the development of programs that can assist food and beverage manufacturers with increasing their profitability and competitiveness, while benefiting the environment and society.
Provision just launched their online Canadian-made Food Loss and Waste tool kit that helps food and beverage manufacturers quantify, identify root cause and develop effective reduction strategies for food waste.
In addition, Provision will be hosting a solutions forum in partnership with the National Zero Waste Council and PAC Consortium April 12, 2017 in Mississauga. The full-day event will include keynotes, plenaries, panel discussions and a solutions showcase of exhibitors.
Where You Fit In
If you are a food or beverage manufacturer interested in being a pilot site to test new innovative technologies or operational behaviours, contact Meena Hassanali and be a food waste reduction leader!