Food waste now accepted, but who’s to blame?

The issue of wasted fooSeperate your garbage!d continues to receive significant column inches in the mainstream press, with the consumer generally considered the guilty party for having an eye too big for his belly. But is this really the case? Or is something else to blame?

According to recent research by food freshness technology company It’sFresh, it’s the former. Of the 2,000 people surveyed in its recent poll, 50% admitted to having resigned themselves to high levels of food waste, with a whopping 93% citing surpassed best-by dates as the reason so much of it ends up in the garbage. In response to these rather alarming statistics, the company was keen to stress that despite customers losing faith in the issue being rectified, the industry needs to remain focused on solving the problem.

Shifting the focus away from the consumer, INCPEN – the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment – put forth the notion that waste prevention is in fact down to packaging, which is often made the scapegoat. INCPEN’s research showed that proper packaging can have a hugely beneficial environmental impact, but in many cases, it’s just not given due consideration.

Packaging, they say, has a fundamental role in reducing waste, as it protects our goods in the supply chain and can give foods a much longer life – meaning that when carried out effectively, the customer doesn’t have to rush to throw away goods so prematurely. However, getting food producers on-board might be a difficult task. Do they really want their products to last longer, meaning that consumers may buy less of it as a result?

Meanwhile, The International Development Committee has called for sanction-backed food waste reduction targets, but it remains to be seen if and how this type of legislation can ever materialise.

So whilst the consumer has to shoulder their fair share of the burden and do everything in their capability to manage their goods wisely and not over-spend, it seems as though the attention has already shifted to supply chain issues that can be tweaked to make a huge difference. If – and only if – both consumers and producers are willing to adapt, then maybe we can begin making progress.

– Simon Rowley

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