Before we talk about where the wastage is, let me clarify what wastage I am talking about. Think of the last time you looked into your dustbin. What did you see? Maybe some tissue, some cartons, banana peels...and a half eaten apple!
What is food wastage?
Approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food produced in the world for human consumption gets lost or wasted each year. That’s about one-third of the total food produced! Wait a second, is there a difference between ‘food loss’ and ‘food waste’?
Yes. ‘food loss’ happens along the supply chain from production to retail distribution, whereas ‘food waste’ is the food discarded typically after it has made its way to retailers & homes. In other words, food waste is food items that are fit for human consumption but are thrown away.
So the papaya soup that my mother tried to get me to eat to grow my (ahem) upper chest which I conveniently slid into the trash can? Definitely food waste.
So, where’s my wastage?
Can you guess what Singapore’s top 4 most commonly wasted food items are? They are in fact your everyday staples - rice, noodles, bread, and fruits and vegetables!
Let’s look at the first two food items, rice and noodles which are usually over-prepared.
One of the main reasons for food wastage is actually over-preparation of food, or what might be referred to as ‘acting out of love’. When we prepare meals and buy food for our loved ones, we tend to over-serve and over-buy. This then results in mountains of uneaten food, especially carbs like rice and noodles.
Another main reason would be safety. When it comes to food items such as bread, fruits and vegetables, many of us throw them away thinking they are inedible. But in reality, much of it is very much edible making the resulted waste - completely avoidable!
Food waste is a common phenomenon not only at our homes, but also at majority of the food businesses in Singapore. And one cannot blame them. Running a food business is tough in itself, predicting the demand and balancing the supply accordingly is even tougher.
Let's say you planned out your supply of bread and eggs for 1,000 customers. The supply is scheduled to arrive tomorrow as planned. At moment's notice the CB was announced starting in two days! That's a lot of excess food. Add to that, think of the hawker "uncles" and "aunties" who do not know how to use the delivery apps.
Even when there are no external factors disrupting your business, it is still quite challenging to accurately forecast demand and balancing the supply. Even the best of the best fail at it because at the end of the day forecasts are wrong... to some extent.
Ultimately, food businesses in Singapore have no option but to discard about 7 Mil Kgs of perfectly edible and unsold food every year. This could have provided a meal for up to 40,000 consumers for one full year! and thus preventing the rise food prices and any other bad things.
Are you thinking why is there so much food wastage in the F&B businesses? Check out the 7 top reasons in our mini infographic below:
In conclusion, all edible food that is discarded is food waste and its completely avoidable. It occurs in homes and at restaurants and cafes. But what exactly does all this wasted food mean? Let’s find out in our next article. Stay Tuned!