Various vegetables are on display for sale at the Jean Talon Market in Montreal. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)

Study finds more than half of food produced in Canada wasted

The study released Thursday is the world’s first to measure food waste using data from industry and other sources instead of estimates

The study released Thursday is the world’s first to measure food waste using data from industry and other sources instead of estimates, said Martin Gooch of Value Chain Management International, which conducted the study.

Value Chain works with agriculture, aquaculture, marine and food industries to make them more profitable.

RELATED: 8 ways to love food, reduce waste and save during the holidays

“What we did was actually go to industry and (said), ‘Give us primary data,”’ Gooch said. “This is the first time anywhere in the world that anyone’s gone out and got primary data that connects production with consumers.”

Results were checked with industry experts.

“At every point in the process, we ground-truthed it,” said Gooch. “We’re confident our results are conservative.”

Previous work has suggested that Canadians waste almost 400 kilograms of food per person, one of the world’s highest totals. The new work adds considerable detail to that figure.

Apples rot in the grass for lack of harvest workers. Surplus milk is flushed. Thousands of hectares of produce are plowed after cancelled orders.

RELATED: B.C. teen’s petition to end food waste in Canada reaches 142,000 signatures

The report, funded largely by the Walmart Foundation, concludes 58 per cent of Canadian food production is wasted.

That includes unavoidable waste such as animal bones. But a solid one-third of the waste — more than 11 million tonnes — could be recovered.

The report says the value of usable groceries that wind up in landfills or other disposal sites is almost $50 billion. That’s more than half the amount Canadians spend on food every year and is enough to feed every Canadian for five months.

As well, it says avoidable food waste in Canada produces more than 22 million tonnes of climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions.

The report says processing and manufacturing are the largest sources of avoidable waste, accounting for 43 per cent of it. Produce that doesn’t meet exacting grading standards, inaccurate market forecasts and inefficient processes are all part of the problem.

So are date codes which remove perfectly healthy food from the market.

“Best-before doesn’t mean awful-after,” said Nikkel.

RELATED: B.C. breweery creates bread beer from food waste

Canadian kitchens are also conspicuous wastrels, responsible for 21 per cent of avoidable waste. That’s about $1,700 per household in a country in which four million people struggle for regular meals.

Hospitals, restaurants and institutions contribute 13 per cent of avoidable food waste. Retail outlets are close behind at 12 per cent.

Farmers waste only six per cent of the usable food they produce. Distributors waste even less at five per cent.

The report details many ways waste could be cut. Better co-ordination between farmer and processor, changes to crop insurance, clearer date codes, improved safety assessments for donated food and liability reform could all help keep nutrition out of the garbage and on somebody’s plate.

Even avoiding bulk buys that result in excess being tossed away would help, said Nikkel.

Canadians should change their attitude toward food, she added.

“We’ve cheapened it so much that it doesn’t have value any more. It would horrify our grandparents.

“We need to go back to that valuing of food.”

(Canadian Press)

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Man pleads guilty to stabbing woman, off-duty cop outside North Delta elementary school

The suspect, whose name is under a publication ban, faced 10 charges in relation to this incident

Surrey RCMP boss Brian Edwards on moving forward, and what keeps him awake at night

Edwards spoke with Now-Leader reporter Tom Zytaruk about what he’s learning and hopes to accomplish as Surrey’s top cop

PHOTOS: Cloverdale’s Coldest Night of the Year charity walk raises $125K

Annual event sees more than 500 walkers take part

All-Surrey battle for South Fraser boys basketball title

At Tamanawis, the top four teams will go to provincials

Hopes are for ‘focus on Surrey investments’ when Horgan speaks in March

Luncheon at golf course planned by Surrey Board of Trade

VIDEO: Illicit drug overdoses killed 981 in B.C. in 2019, down 38%

Chief coroner says figures were down about a third in the province’s fourth year of the opioid crisis

UPDATE: Protesters dismantle blockade on Maple Ridge tracks

West Coast Express train service is expected to run again Tuesday morning

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

Motorists were ‘driving like their own Indy 500’ before fatal Abbotsford crash, court hears

Family member declares defence request for 90-day jail sentence a ‘joke’

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Royals, Elvis, Captain Cook: Hundreds of wax figures find new life in B.C. man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Most Read

l -->