When many people think about food waste, throwing old food in the bin comes to mind. Goodbye, last Tuesday’s leftovers! While a huge problem in itself it isn’t the only issue. A substantial amount of food is also lost during processing. The FAO stated that around “14% of the world’s food is lost before even reaching the market.” Between supermarket guidelines, unpredictable weather, transport and premium product manufacturing, vast amounts of edible food gets lost or wasted before getting to the consumers. This issue quite rightly has caused charities, researchers and companies to try and rethink the food manufacturing process and find the purpose for the food that is unnecessarily wasted. The new trend is trying to see the beauty in food waste and give it the true glow up it deserves!
Food waste charity WRAP works closely with the UK food supply chain to identify areas of food waste and potential solutions. They have estimated that in the UK the market value of wasted or surplus food would have come in at £1.2 billion! Not only is that revenue lost for the farmers but it also gives us a clear idea of just how much opportunity we are missing with this issue. All of this food is mainly wasted due to considerable variations between supermarket guidelines of the same product, surplus grown to ensure quantities are met and food discarded from the manufacturing of a premium product. Campaign group Feedback also found that supermarket practices ‘consistently drive waste’ from last-minute forecast changes, order cancellations and cosmetic specifications.
While this clearly is a catastrophe for the hunger and poverty crisis the UNEP Food Waste index also calculated that “8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food that is not consumed.”
So what can be done? Firstly campaigns and charities such as Feedback’s Gleaning network work with farmers to redistribute surplus food to those in need and Wrap’s Food surplus network help small businesses and farmers to identify a range of opportunities to market surplus produce. The change is coming! This is a vital step in the right direction to effectively utilise the raw products as quickly as possible. However, the Index goes on to determine that the many opportunities provided by food waste reductions “remain largely untapped and under-exploited.” Here is where we meet the creative companies that have said enough is enough.
A new wave is hitting the market in the form of taking food waste and giving it a new life. A surge of companies bring products to the market based on produce destined for the bin is skyrocketing, and we are loving it! UK based drink companies such as Get Wonky and Kayu plant-based energy, are drinking drinks to market made from the fruit and vegetables left to otherwise rot in the fields! Get wonky offers a range of flavoured juices and Kayu plant-based energy used the delicious cacao fruit that was previously discarded in the cacao bean harvesting process. While company Toast Ale, brew a very interesting brew using surplus bread. All rather delicious alternatives in my opinion! It is this creativity that is disrupting the food supply chain and giving this food the lease of life it deserves.
Better yet, the consumer can also get involved. By supporting businesses that use food waste and opting for the wonky veg to be delivered or in the supermarket we can really start to see the value and beauty in otherwise wasted food. Snubbing food waste is a thing of the past. Let’s embrace those sexy carrots with two legs and thick thighs!