The concept of food waste goes way beyond our collective and individual ideas of what it means. Leaving aside food wasted by families (estimated at 20% of the total), the problem is much more serious when it comes to shops, food production and supermarkets. The quantities involved are enormous: it is reckoned that at the global level one third of food production is wasted, in other words around 1.3 billion tonnes a year. It is a legal requirement to remove products that have passed their use-by dates from the shelves, and this goes for fruit and veg as well. The costs of retrieving, collecting, transporting and destroying this unwanted food are very high.
The supermarkets are becoming increasingly aware of this problem and some of them make the food they are obliged to throw out available to organizations and groups who ask for it. This approach should be valued and expanded; indeed it should be made obligatory not only for supermarkets but also restaurants and the food industry. A directive from the EU should make this obligatory for all EU member states.
It is a simple application of the doughnut economy which we wrote about in the previous Newsletter.