According to various reports, about a third of our food in SA ends up at landfill sites. Of this, fruits, vegetables and cereals account for 70% of the wastage and loss primarily throughout the food supply chain – from farm to fork and has been valued at R61.5 billion, while a study notes that the average annual cost of household food waste is R21.7 million.
Can we afford that in a country that is suffering the effects of global warming and drought and where roughly 12 million people go hungry every day?
The WWF has published a new report that showcases the level of food waste globally, including South Africa, the report at a glance mentions:
- In South Africa, a third of all food is never consumed and ends up at rubbish dumps.
- This waste is in stark contrast to the millions of South Africans that are going hungry.
- Water and energy costs mean food wastage comes at a very high price to the economy and environment.
- Many actions needed to reduce food waste are already well formulated. The challenge is embedding this knowledge within government, businesses and households.
- Government has made a global commitment to halve food waste by 2030.
- Reducing food waste could be a fundamental strategy for improving food security.
The energy wasted every year in South Africa for producing food that is not eaten is estimated as enough to power the City of Johannesburg for roughly 16 weeks. The wasted embedded water would fill over 600 000 Olympic swimming pools – a massive waste for SA, the 30th driest country on the planet. About 90% of waste in SA is disposed of to landfills, where the food-waste component leads to the production of methane gas and carbon dioxide. Successfully cutting food loss and waste is a chance to turn around severe food insecurity felt by significant portions of the population.
Reasons for household food waste include date codes - specifically sell-by and expiry dates, product appearance, forgotten produce in fridges and cupboards, poor protection due to packaging not being resealable, preparing too much, slow consumption, pests or buying too much. Some of the most wasted fruits and vegetables include bananas, apples, avos, tomatoes, potatoes and lettuce.
What is the difference between food loss and food waste?
Food Loss is the decrease in the quantity or quality of food resulting from decisions and actions by food suppliers in the chain excluding retailers, food service providers and consumers. Food waste refers to the decrease in the quantity or quality of food resulting from decisions and actions of retailers, food service providers and consumers.
Food waste is a global concern, together we can fight food waste!
Nine easy everyday tips to fighting food waste, according to the FAO are ask for smaller portions, love your left overs, shop smart, buy the “ugly” fruit and vegetables, check you fridge, practive FIFO(First in, first out), understand dates on your food, turn waste into compost and lastly sharing is caring.
Mitas Corporation has a number of solutions that can aid in the reduction of food waste and loss, some of these from Informed Decisions, a division of Mitas are:
- Our IoT fridge monitoring solution can monitor how often fridge doors are opened and closed, ensure that controlled temperature environments stay within in range and alert the relevant people if there is any deviation or if maintenance is needed.
- By making use of our smart farming management solutions, the quality and quantity of fresh produce will increase, by monitoring the soil, machinery, water, weather, chemicals and even the crop itself we can help ensure the best growing conditions and at the time of harvesting the combination of IoT as well as the history of the specific growth can be used to start the visible or batch traceability of the product.
Tracepack, a Division of Mitas Corporation also has a few solutions:
- SafetTraces uses the power of DNA to verify the origin, purity and safety of food on-site, in minutes. The ground-breaking system directly marks food and agricultural products with FDA-approved DNA barcodes and enables item-level traceability. Adulteration and dilution of liquid foods such as oils, juices and beverages can also be detected.
- In Sub-Saharan Africa, food is processed by small scale farmers with inefficient farming, storage, processing and distribution systems. Food is mostly sold at local and informal markets, Banqu works by connecting the unbanked to the global economy through a secure, immutable and distributed ledger of financial and personal records using blockchain technology.
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