Solving Food Waste 2
Solving the problem of food waste is a complicated issue that must involve everyone from growers, to processors, to retailers, to restaurants and individuals at home.
For this series we’ve been speaking to Ned Spang a UC Davis Assistant Professor of Food Science and Technology. Spang and colleagues recently published a study explaining the complex nature of food waste around the world.
In talking with food growers around California to find out what are some of the drivers of food loss and waste on the farm, Spang says they found a disconnect between the uncertainties that growers experience and the certainty that consumers have come to expect at the grocery store.
SPANG: “There’s an imbalance in terms of the what the growers experience in terms of weather, productivity, what the yield was that year. And the very consistent demand that the retailers are aiming for in the marketplace. There might be times when a tomato that is perfectly edible is left in the field because it’s not the right size or shape or color. Ultimately there isn’t a demand for the tomato. Another reason might be that the price has fallen for tomatoes. So now the grower cant really afford to send out a harvest crew and lose money getting that tomato into the marketplace. And so there’s a number of barriers that sometimes prevent the harvesting of crops even though they’re edible in the field to get it all the way down the supply chain. ”
In fact Spang’s research found that in some cases it’s better to leave that food on the farm rather than harvest it and have it be lost or wasted further down the supply chain either because it was over ripe or there was no demand for it anyway. Because you’d just be investing more resources into a product that will still be lost into the waste stream.