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

Lacombe Market vendor supporting family who lost their home

Lyndall Cave will be selling jewellery until the end of August

Lacombe Composite’s Ecovision Club, Friends of the Greenhouse preparing for successful harvest

LCHS students and community members keep programs growing throughout summer

Red Deer- Lacombe MP disapointed by Liberals blocking hearings on SNC-Lavalin affair ethics report

MP Calkins said Canadians will pass a verdict over the affair during the upcoming election

Red Deer-Lacombe MP Calkins comments on CPC promise to make maternity benefits tax free

Tax credit would remove federal income tax from EI maternity and EI parental benefits

WATCH: Lacombe Days parade rolls through city

Hundreds turn out for annual tradition

Black bear ruins Alberta barber’s day

It’s not always a good idea to leave the door open

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Red Deer Rebels Training Camp begins Aug. 24

Rebels home opener will be on Sept. 21 against the Edmonton Oil Kings

UPDATED: Search continues for possible drowning on Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake RCMP and Fire Department continue their search for 20-something adult male

New study suggests autism overdiagnosed: Canadian expert

Laurent Mottron: ‘Autistic people we test now are less and less different than typical people’

Huawei executive’s defence team alleges Canadians were ‘agents’ of the FBI

eng’s arrest at Vancouver’s airport has sparked a diplomatic crisis between Canada and China

Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get workers, supplies ready for pipeline

Crown corporation believes the expansion project could be in service by mid-2022

Most Read