Smith Calls Time On Food Waste

23 November 2011
Alyn Smith MEP has welcomed today's Agriculture Committee vote on an initiative report on the problem of food wastage and ensuring a more efficient supply chain as a valuable step in the fight for European and global food security given vast amounts of Europe's food is wasted.
The report by Italian Democrat Salvatore Caronna was approved by an overwhelming majority by the Agriculture Committee. It calls for comprehensive local, national and European strategies to deal with the scandalous levels of food wastage along the entire food chain, from production to processing to distribution to the consumption stage. These include promoting direct relationships between producers and consumers, better food preparation information for citizens, better organisation of food packaging, and better storage practices.

Some studies estimate that up to 50% of food in Europe is lost along the chain and becomes waste. European Commission evidence indicates that 89 million tonnes of food waste is generated in the EU every year, or 179kg per person, at the same time as 16 million people are receiving food aid in the EU, and 925 million people are estimated to be malnourished around the world.

Alyn said:

"Food security is part of our national security, and food waste is an outrage for a dozen different reasons.

"This is by no means a soft, peripheral issue about people not finishing their meals or buying too much at the supermarket. It strikes at the heart of the critical debate about European and world food security, and how we deal with the challenges of a rising world population with rising demand for food "luxuries" coupled with the threat of climate change and diminishing natural resources. What the "producerists" - who insist that we have to keep intensifying our agriculture using more elaborate chemical inputs and biotechnology to ensure higher yields - forget is that current production levels are in fact more than adequate - but are horrendously undermined by a hugely wasteful food chain that eliminates up to half the food that we produce before it even gets onto plates.

"This is a systematic failing along the entire chain: from food losses during harvesting in developing countries, to inadequate storage facilities which causes food to go off, to poor distribution networks, to the private marketing standards of supermarkets which rejects food for not being the right size or shape, and yes, to consumers both lacking information on proper methods of food storage and preparation, and who are just lazy.

"I'm delighted that we've drawn attention to this situation by passing this report. We've also called for 2013 to be the European Year Against Food Waste, which should further advance information about our cause. In a world where we will have to increasingly conserve scarce resources, waste on this scale is simply not acceptable and we shall all have to re-learn the old maxim - "Waste Not, Want Not"."