Are farms in the United Kingdom responsible for mass wastage of food? While thousands of people face severe hunger, it unfortunately seems British farmers are responsible for food waste.
Research conducted by Feedback, a food and environment charity in the United Kingdom, reflects scary statistics. Recently, fruit and vegetable farmers participated in a survey conducted by Feedback, claiming they waste up to 37 tonnes of produce every year. This is approximately 16 per cent of their crop. This is also enough to feed between 150 000 to 250 000 people with five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
But, why are these farmers wasting so much?
Apparently, supermarkets in the UK have 85 per cent of the market share of grocery stores. This means they have the power to burden farmers with food waste and the associated costs. The report goes as far as to claim the wastage as an ecological catastrophe.
Executive director of Feedback, Carina Millstone, feels supermarkets need to do their part in minimising waste through working closely with their suppliers.
As scary as this is, is South Africa also wasting a substantial amount of produce?
According to a report conducted by WWF-SA in 2017, it is estimated that 10 million tonnes of food in South Africa goes to waste every year. The losses include a staggering 44 per cent fruit and vegetables.
Yet, it seems farmers are trying to minimise the amount of wastage in the fruit and vegetable department.
Kristoffel Joubert is a farmer who works for a company which specialises in berries, especially raspberries and blackberries outside of Newcastle.
“The berries need to meet certain specifications before they are sent to our clients, which includes major retailers, or are exported. This is to ensure that they don’t go soft or break when being exported or transported.”
However, when harvesting there are berries which don’t meet the criteria. But, they are not merely thrown away. “There are two groups of berries that don’t meet the specifications. The first is berries deemed not suitable for human consumption. This is sent to a pig farmer, to feed his pigs.”
The second group are berries which are slightly broken or a tad too soft for retailers or exporting. This group is sent to yoghurt manufacturers.
Christo Botha, a cabbage farmer near Volksrust, explains he farms cabbage on a somewhat small scale. His produce needs to be deemed of good quality. That which isn’t, is used to feed his sheep.
We live in crazy times here in SA. 44% of food is being thrown away, due to appearance, whilst thousands starve.
What do you think needs to be done with food that is not sold? While farmers do their best to minimise the wastage, what solutions can you offer to eradicate food wastage?