Canada produces far more food than it needs to feed its population. Last year, exports of agri-food and seafood products to a hungry world were worth close to $74-billion. According to Farm Credit Canada, the country ranked fifth in 2019 among global commodity exporters and 11th in food, which includes processed commodities for consumption.
But another global ranking that Canadians may be less proud of is when it comes to food waste. Canada sits in 12th place as the biggest per capita waster of food, according to a January 2021 report on Earth.org, a Hong Kong-based environmental non-profit and non-partisan think-tank.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says it is estimated that more than half of Canada’s food supply is wasted annually from farm to plate through production, processing, distribution, retail, food service and at home at a time when one in seven Canadians is facing food insecurity.
It’s why the federal government launched a project last year to reduce food waste. Speaking at the Arrell Food Summit in October, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau, unveiled the Food Waste Reduction Challenge, part of the Food Policy for Canada.
“Reducing food waste is necessary for so many reasons,” she said. “It can help save consumers money, improve food security, support efficiency in the agriculture and food sector, and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Statistics provided by Agriculture and Agri-food Canada show that 8 per cent of all greenhouse gases worldwide are the result of food waste.
Earth.org reports that fresh fruits and vegetables are the most commonly disposed of food, with residential homes being one of the largest producers of food waste. However, the problem needs to be examined at every link in the supply chain, from producers to processors to retailers to consumers.
For example, in developing countries, 40 per cent of losses occur at the post-harvest and processing stages, while in developed countries, more than 40 per cent of losses occur at the retail and consumer levels, often because of quality standards that emphasise appearance and result in produce being discarded because it is deemed too ugly to eat.
For more information, visit https://impact.canada.ca/en
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