Stunning argument here!

An executive at the world’s second-biggest consumer goods company told a conference that food is \’too cheap\’ and far too much is being wasted as a result.

Jan Kees Vis, the global director for sustainable sourcing development at Unilever said that half of the food that is purchased in the city of London is never eaten.

Bloke who sells food says that food is too cheap.

Blimey, never saw that one coming.

23 comments on “Stunning argument here!

  1. “half of the food that is purchased in the city of London is never eaten”
    That seems a brave claim, anyone know what the evidence for this is?

  2. How is it wasted? People buy more food than they need because they like the additional security of having at least some food in the home for emergencies, friends, etc.

  3. Eddy/Tim: no, he’ll be talking about the whole lot.

    Vis is a smart bloke. Remember, this is out loud. I’m sure that he could provide on request detailed data confirming that 50% of the food purchased in the City of London is never eaten.

    This would reflect the Square Mile’s weird demographics, far greater concentration of restaurants, etc etc. I can completely believe it – it’d involve about double the wastage you get in Greater London. And Unilever have a Dutch attitude to facts – there is no way a senior bloke would be caught out in a lie.

    However, there are two points which the Waily Fail has managed to fuck up. To determine whether this is solely because they are idiots or because Unilever were hoping to bum-steer them is beyond my acumen.

    1) The Waily Fail says the food is wasted; Mr Vis doesn’t, because he recognises points like Mario’s. In an ideal world for any food company, people who could afford it would pay more and continue to buy too much food…

    2) city/City. There is no way half the food in Greater London is wasted; but this is the impression that most DM readers will take away.

  4. It probably includes all those crappy corporate buffets, where nobody eats the soggy quiche etc.

    Also, does it also include stalks, bones, peel, trimmed fat and other natural throwaways that tend to get included in alarmist “food wastage” statistics?

  5. Single data point/anecdote alert.

    I’ve had a few working breakfasts and lunches at a city law firm recently and its fair to say that over half didn’t get eaten by us.

  6. Sounds like he’s talking about the hospitality industry. In catering you allow for quite a bit of wastage. For instance you buy fresh but no one buys, so you throw it away when it’s no longer fresh. You have to overstock because in catering you never know how much you will actually sell. That’s wastage just as much as someone leaving food on their plate.

  7. “food is ‘too cheap’ and far too much is being wasted as a result.”

    I’m struggling to think why this is a bad thing, considering the alternative.

    Of course, the “food” itself is rarely “wasted”, as biological matter it always gets recycled in some way, unless you are really determined for it not to be.

    What really is being wasted is the production, transportation and packaging of uneaten food, so, what is Mr Vis going to do about it then?

  8. You reap what you sow, and I suspect this Gloabl Director for Sustaibnable Sourcering will get an earful.
    A title like that (have I spelt it right?) and you can be sure it’s the equivalent of vice-chairman. Chap who’s risen so high we can’t afford to sack him.

    Is food too cheap? Discuss. WTF, do we pay less for food than people in poor countries who are genuinely hungry?

    How do you measure wastage? I haven’t read 99.9999% of the telephone book, my kids have downloaded crap music which they’ve listened for a few bars, there are books I’ve ordered from Amazon which I haven’t opened, the wife and kids are away visiting at the mo so I’m wasting 3/4 of the house…

    It all reminds me of the “eat that disgusting semolina” stuff at school. Poor starving Africans are NOT going to be fed because you don’t have an appetite.

  9. SimonF (#7), in my day that all used to get scoffed by the admin or trainees.

    Probably still gets counted as “wasted” by the sustainabiity campaigners though.

  10. I’m with sadbutmadlad

    I have had numerous breakfast / lunch meetings in the City and elsewhere. They always provide too much, and as its my job to talk a lot, I don’t even get to eat as much as I’d like ;)

  11. Most of what I see wasted is the vegetarian / vegan options, which are provided because the great God diversity must be appeased but (apart from a minority such as the crudities & dips) are simply untouched at the end of the day.

    But then I’m used to providing for engineers and incident meetings …

  12. Richard & SimonF, same here – the ‘leftovers’ from any buffet lunch are invariably hoovered up by the IT staff and office girls!

  13. But then I’m used to providing for engineers and incident meetings …

    I’m not sure I’ve ever met a vegetarian engineer, with the possible exception of one Indian.

  14. Everything I ate in the City came from Benjys, and I ate every horrible, insufficiently buttered crumb and brown, wilted lettuce leaf of it.

  15. Most of what I see wasted is the vegetarian / vegan options, which are provided because the great God diversity must be appeased but (apart from a minority such as the crudities & dips) are simply untouched at the end of the day.

    ^^This.

    There has to be a vegetarian option provided all the time. I know two vegetarians. Out of all my colleagues, clients, former colleagues, friends etc. Entire monkeysphere. Two

  16. It’s actually a Telegraph story, which the Mail story acknowledges at least, on the way to copying huge chunks of it.

    I see this quite a bit. Anyway know if they have some sort of tacit permission?

  17. “There has to be a vegetarian option provided all the time. I know two vegetarians.”

    Non-vegetarians can eat the vegetarian stuff if they want, though.

    Having been non-veg for half my adult life (and, obviously, veg for the other) I know which is better catered for. Non-vegetarians, for example, get something called ‘choice’.

    Not, I should add, that I have ever made a fuss. I’ve made my choice and if I have to go without then so be it. And that includes when meat-eaters hoover up all the veg stuff before moving onto the rest.

  18. “And vice-versa.”

    Well, no. Unless you don’t think that people have a right to decide what they eat.

    I never bitch and moan if my preferences are not catered for.. and don’t know personally anyone else with particular preferences that does (e.g. vegans, muslims, gluten-haters etc… most are used to having to make other arrangements and don’t wish to impose their own diets on anyone else).

    As a matter of courtesy, it’s nice to be given an option when it’s not putting anybody to any great trouble.. and non-vegetarians (who do not have a moral objection to the industrial slaughter of quorns) can eat what we eat without, surely, it being something that they have a strong aversion to (excepting, I should say, the occasional people I’ve met who seem to genuinely thing that any meal which doesn’t include meat is an abomination.)

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