Food Waste is a global challenge that has enormous environmental, economic and social impacts:
One third of all food – and almost half of all fruit and vegetables - produced globally is lost or wasted. Up to 25 per cent of vegetables produced don’t even ever leave the farm.
This wastage equates to approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food, with a value of more than US$1 trillion, that is lost or wasted each year.
Nearly 30% of the world’s agricultural land is currently used to produce food that will never be eaten.
Food waste also consumes nearly a quarter of the water used in agriculture
and, if this food waste was a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, after the USA and China.
Here in Australia, 1 in 5 bags of groceries end up in the bin. The average Australian rubbish bin is 40% food waste. It costs the Australian economy about $20 billion each year!
Back in 2016 the Australian government made a commitment to develop a national food waste strategy with the aim of halving Australia’s food waste by 2030:
Here in Australia, 1 in 5 bags of groceries end up in the bin. The average Australian rubbish bin is 40% food waste.It costs the Australian economy about $20 billion each year!uction goal”. The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP Minister for the Environment and Energy
The time for action is now.
Why so much food waste?
The drivers of food waste are varied and complex, and occur at every stage along the food supply chain:
Produce lost due to pests and disease or weather extremes.
Produce left in the field because farmers cannot find the labour required to harvest it, or because it fails to meet supermarket’s ‘perfect produce’ standards (in terms of either quality or size).
Produce damaged, discarded or spoiled during harvesting, packing, handling or transportation.
Produce lost at retail due to over-ordering, storage or handing practices; or consumer’s unwillingness to purchase ‘imperfect’ produce.
Produce discarded post-purchase at both hospitality/food service and household levels.
How can we reduce food waste?
While the policy focus for reducing food waste is often on households, over 60% of food waste occurs at earlier stages in the food chain, on-farm and during distribution.
So whilst there are already many great initiatives in place to help address the issue of food waste in the later stages of the food supply chain (for example Harris Farms’ “imperfect picks” or OzHarvest and FoodBank-style food redistribution networks), the greatest benefits can undoubtedly be achieved higher up the food supply chain. Targeting avoiding waste (rather than simply redistributing excess food).
It also stands to reason that the greatest gains can be achieved by targeting waste in the most perishable food categories, such as fresh herbs and leafy greens.
Urban Indoor Agriculture is tackling Food Waste
By growing the most perishable fresh produce in controlled environments closer to consumption, urban indoor agriculture can significantly reduce waste in some of the most perishable food categories:
Producing reliable, consistent quality fresh produce (free from pests and pesticides and independent of any weather extremes),
Close to consumption (reducing food miles to minutes or even metres to deliver fresher produce with longer remaining shelf-life to retailers, and with fewer end-to-end carbon emissions)
InvertiGro is driven by the quest to “feed the world the smarter way” with our innovative indoor vertical farming solutions, however more needs to be done, particularly at a government investment and planning level, to encourage this kind of innovation and support the adoption of new urban controlled environment food production methods that can dramatically reduce waste “in the field” and by reducing the food miles travelled to deliver the freshest high-quality produce.
Taking the equation a step further, InvertiGro is also partnering with other Australian AgTech innovators to provide fully-circular food production systems; that convert organic waste to produce nutrients, clean energy and C02 for healthy plant growth.
Happy International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste! (29 September 2020)