It’s a global issue that affects each and every one of us. A recent report by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate estimates that globally, consumers spend about $400B a year on produce and snacks that eventually make their way to the trash bin.
The good news is… organizations all over the world are targeting this issue with bottom up and top down approaches.
WHY IS FOOD BEING WASTED?
During World War I and II food was rationed not wasted. So what happened? When did our mindset change? And what were the reasons?
I don’t have all the answers, but what I do know is that we demand our food to be pretty.
In North America, over 30% of produce is rejected by supermarkets like Loblaws and Sobeys because it’s not aesthetically-pleasing enough for consumers to buy.
HOW IS FOOD WASTE ADDRESSED AROUND THE WORLD?
France: Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables
In France, supermarket Intermarché launched a successful campaign called Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables, aiming to prove that ugly produce is just as tasty and edible as it’s counterpart. The chain cut prices on misshapen fruits and vegetables, dedicated an aisle in their store to the unsightly produce, and rolled out a marketing campaign to give their veggies character, as seen in the poster below. Buying the produce from farmers who would have otherwise thrown it away, Intermarché sold the produce for 30% less than “pretty” produce. The result was a huge success, with initial stocks completely selling out, and overall traffic to the store increasing by 24%.
Canada: No Name Naturally Imperfect
A spin off of France’s Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables campaign is being rolled out in Canada. Recently, Loblaws in Ontario and Quebec began selling ugly apples and potatoes for a discounted price in an attempt to curb food waste. In addition to reducing food waste, the campaign called No Name Naturally Imperfect aims to offer fresh and healthy food to it’s customers at a lower price and increase revenue for struggling farmers. The produce offered at a discounted price would have otherwise been used for juices, sauces, soups or dehydration.
China: Clean Your Plate Campaign
In China, ordering more than you can eat is a symbol of wealth and security. Bloomberg View reported that in 2011, almost 30% of food served at a university canteen in Wuhan was discarded directly into the trash can. Two young business executives saw that students were being wasteful and started the Clean Your Plate Campaign in 2013. The establishment of the campaign coincided with an announcement from Communist Party leader Xi Jinping demanding that Party official reduce their extravagant spending on banquets and other self-indulgences.
The campaign targeted ordinary individuals and used the slogan “I’m proud to clean my plate,” looking to influence social norms. Zhang Ye, and his colleague Xia Xue handed out posters to over 1,000 restaurants in Beijing, and promoted the campaign on social media. Months after the campaign was launched, many restaurants in Beijing were serving smaller portions, and said that customers were ordering smaller portions.
“This campaign started by targeting ordinary people,” says Zhang Ye. “But at the same time, Chinese authorities, they begin to counter corruption and correct the behavior of using government money for having meals. This campaign – I would summarize it by saying it started from bottom to top, and then was promoted from top to bottom.”
UK: Love Food Hate Waste
WRAP, a UK charity, launched a campaign called Love Food Hate Waste in an attempt to increase awareness on the need to reduce food waste, and how to do it. By working with a variety of partners including chefs, community organizations, governmental bodies and businesses, they are able to educate the public on food waste statistics and offer suggestions on how people can take action to reduce waste in their everyday life. Their website offers food waste facts, numerous tips and recipes for leftovers.The campaign is now working with international chef Jamie Oliver, who is partnering up with Jimmy Doherty to offer a television show offering tips on how to avoid waste, and save money with their show called Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast.
“In our new Channel 4 series, Jimmy and I are hitting the road to fight against one of the biggest food crimes of our time – food waste. When half a million people in the UK are relying on food banks, this waste isn’t just bonkers, it’s bordering on criminal.”
U.S: Waste Reduction is Trending
In the U.S. food waste reduction is now becoming trendy, with it ranking ninth on the Top 10 Food Trends, 2015 Culinary Forecast by the National Restaurant Association.
- In October 2014, an organization called End Food Waste organized a meal for 5000 people, with food that would have otherwise been discarded before it made it to the grocery store.
- In Massachusetts, former Trader Joe exec Doug Rauch is launching a store called The Daily Table in a poor community of Mass. that sells food past it’s best before date. Taking tax-deductible food donations from neighboring grocery stores, The Daily Table hopes to offer affordable produce and other perishable food to people that may not otherwise be able to afford it.
CHANGE DIFFERS AROUND THE WORLD
As this month has shown, change comes in a number of different ways, and differs all over the world. A global problem such as food waste is a common problem that may be a result of varying behaviors or cultures, that may need to be addressed very differently from region to region. Do you think that any of these campaigns may work in your region of the world? Are there any other campaigns that talk about food waste? Let’s talk!