Our farmers are known for their tremendous efforts all year round. But the issue surrounding food waste has been growing in prominence, and we thought it was time to bring some much-needed extra attention to it.
Naturally, some produce never makes it onto our plates as some crops just don’t thrive. But the biggest issue comes from extreme supermarket standards that prevent £1bn of food leaving the farm gate. Even though a lot is perfectly edible!
To overcome this, ‘ugly fruit and veg’ boxes started to appear on the shelves. We’re also seeing delivered services from companies such as Oddbox. Carrots a little bent, parsnips too short, or strawberries a little off colour, these are just some of the ways a piece of fruit or veg is categorised and put into one of these boxes.
As much as supermarkets believe that we don’t want to buy a wonky parsnip, as customers we create demand. So, we have the power to demand these ‘ugly’ items and help minimise food waste.
However, it is not just our efforts that can help create change. While many stores are realising they need to up their efforts, change is slowly happening. Take a look at some of these great stories at how food waste is being minimised in all areas of production.
Creating a new strategy for success
It’s great to see supermarkets are making changes, but some are doing better than others. Leading the way is Iceland, who have recently announced a great plan to reduce the amount of food that’s wasted on the way to the supermarket shelves.
After recognising their food waste issue, they created a new strategy. This led to successfully reducing their food waste by 23% in the last two years. By recognising the various demands in their stores, they managed to redistribute their foods accordingly and minimise their food waste impact.
Some producers are stuck in a ‘jam’
For some, adapting over time is not an option. When it was announced that Wimbledon would be played behind closed doors this summer, there was only one thought in the minds of the farmers at Lowe’s farms in Mereworth, Kent. ‘What are we going to do with the thousands of strawberries that the event sells?’
The iconic sweet snack has been served at Wimbledon since 1877. But for the first time ever, the event will take place without the customers who buy them.
Then a spark of genius struck on the farm. Instead of struggling to sell all the strawberries elsewhere, Lowe’s farm would create a strawberry jam. Letting the strawberries fulfil a new destiny will prevent them from hitting the food waste heap!
Producing with a purpose
Many brands recognise food waste issues. But some are born from them, such as Toast Ale. They create their tasty ales by rescuing surplus bread that is destined to be wasted. There are multiple flavours to choose from, and to date, they have raised an incredible 1.5 million toasts.
Not only do they help to reduce food waste from one of the most wasted items across the supply chain, but they also feed those in need. Every beer that is purchased with Toast Ale provides a meal for someone in need.
In fact, they’ve saved nearly 2 million slices of bread from being wasted. They’ve donated £45,000 to charity and prevented 42 tonnes of carbon emissions being released into our atmosphere.
From farm to fork
When the nation went into lockdown, certain foods became difficult to buy. Hence, our loving farmers started promoting their produce. As a result, thousands of us have been utilising our local farmers for fresh food. From meat to milk, fruit to veg, farmers up and down the country are shouting from their fields to come and grab what is needed.
The first-generation farmers from Treway Farm in Cornwall noted that using social media really helped them in their promotion of food and have seen a huge spike in their followers as they show what happens behind-the-scenes on the farm. They recently shipped a box of meat as far as Scotland!
If you want to discover more about how you can purchase from your local farmer head to Farming UK or check out #FeedTheNation on social channels.
Is our relationship with food changing?
The lockdown has caused many people to adjust their habits, including how they purchase food. The demand for a new and improved future has posed the question, “are we in the midst of a new food revolution?”
It’s shocking to think that over 260 million meals are thrown out each year, while 8.4 million people struggle to afford food every day. It demonstrates that there is an opportunity to make a positive difference to many lives, as well as our planet. Will you do your bit to help by buying ugly food boxes, going directly to farmers, and seeking out brands that are helping create change? We know we will.