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.

Just Posted

Parksville artist aims to produce zero waste with creations, business

Margie Preninger even dabbled with dryer lint year ago

RDN dealing with high interest in backyard cannabis production

New policy proposed to address challenges with Health Canada licences

Vancouver measles outbreak prompts vaccine vigilance on Island

No cases here yet, but Island health authorities push measles vaccinations - and not just for kids

Oceanside RCMP members take the plunge for Special Olympics

Some members of the Oceanside RCMP detachments took the plunge freezing waters… Continue reading

Jeep bursts into flames on highway near Nanoose Bay

Emergency crews responded to blaze at approximately 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday

VIDEO: Massive elk herd runs across Washington State highway

Elk have been making an appearance in the Pacific Northwest

BREAKING: Woman, off-duty cop stabbed outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

Winter storm freezes U.S., halts air travel

Storm dumps snow or heavy rain, snarls travel in much of U.S.

Gwyneth Paltrow: Skier sued me to exploit my fame, wealth

The incident happened in Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Missing Surrey snowshoer caught in avalanche found dead on Vancouver mountain

North Shore Rescue resumed its search today after efforts were temporarily halted Tuesday due to snowstorm

Man injured in police shooting near Nelson has died: B.C. police watchdog

The death follows an incident in Bonnington on Feb. 13

Most Read