Err, no, no

By one government tally, about 60m tonnes of produce worth about $160bn (£119bn), is wasted by retailers and consumers every year – one third of all foodstuffs.

How much will people pay for this produce?


Then it’s worth nowt, innit?

17 thoughts on “Err, no, no”

  1. I think the point is that people have paid for it at some point, but then don’t use it, for one reason or another, and then just discard it — it becomes a needless expenditure.

  2. 60m tonnes of produce worth about $160bn

    So $2,666 per tonne, then. Aluminium is bought and sold for about $1,600-$1,800 per tonne. Who knew dumpster diving around the back of supermarkets was so profitable?

  3. Surely, food waste is just an aspect of a society wealthy enough to exercise choice. Having access to enough food to do more than sustain basic survival.
    I think of my own shopping habits. I buy a certain amount of stuff to cover the eventuality I’ll have to provide for guests. I’ve no doubt other people do the same thing, because they’re able to feed me when I visit. As a result, I usually have a choice of what I’ll be eating at any particular meal, because there’s more available than the bare minimum.
    So yes, there’s inevitably a certain amount of waste because I’m buying more than I can personally eat. In some cases much more, because I’m being hosted by people who’ve done the same & aren’t utilising my own resources. But the benefits to my social life far outweigh the costs to me. And I look on these costs in the same way as I look on buying, say, cinema tickets or the fuel needed to use the car to visit somewhere. Neither is strictly speaking necessary, but they’re part of a desirable lifestyle. Like buying clothes that do more than keep me warm. They’re hardly waste.

  4. So one third of UK food production/imports is worth £120bn, that means food sales in total is worth £360bn, which is about 20% of the economy. It also means that the two thirds of food sold for £240bn is about 70% of all retail sales (£340bn).

    No wonder we’re all so fat.

  5. I seriously doubt retailers and consumers are wadting a tonne of food per person even if they disingenuously include carrot tops and orange peel and other parts that aren’t typically eaten. More likely most of it is wasted at the farm or elsewhere in the supply chain.

  6. as BiS said.

    Beyond hand to mouth, bare subsistence, every form of civilised life will involve ‘waste’ .

  7. From the article: “Vast quantities of fresh produce grown in the US are left in the field to rot, fed to livestock or hauled directly from the field to landfill”

    Leaving it to rot means less fertiliser needed next year. Feeding it to livestock means less animal feed needed this year. Putting it in landfill… Helps other stuff rot down quicker? Can produce methane for energy?

    Two out of three are not a waste and the third might not be all bad either.

  8. Bloke in North Dorset

    £119bn sitting on the table and those evil, useless, capitalists are leaving it there, tsk.

    Still, it leaves an opportunity for the Guardianistas to get in there and set up a not for profit social enterprise that wil create jobs and make people healthy. I can wait for them to start and is there’s so much there they won’t even need a Govt subsidy.

  9. Having worked for a large food manufacturer we used to say that we could estimate the monthly profit based on the number of waste bins outside the factory, waste is tightly controlled on the supply side as it can make a serious dent in your profit margins.
    I knew of one place that produced fresh fruit juices that sold off the squeezed fruit and rinds etc to local pig farms rather than have to pay to process ‘waste’

  10. Bloke in Costa Rica

    20kg per person per week? I’m not particularly frugal but I doubt I throw out more than a tenth of that in food waste.

  11. BniC – this is the norm rather than the exception. Throwing stuff away is expensive, and so called co-product feeding is a large and growing industry. There are a number of companies willing to turn food processing waste and excess production into livestock feed – if you have anything halfway decent in terms of protein, energy or fibre they will pay fairly good money to come and collect it. And now the biogas boys are getting in on the act as well, they are all scratching each other’s eyes out to get the clearance contracts. It can be quite a nice little earner, and in some industries it is the difference between profit and loss – these days crop based bioethanol plants are only vaguely viable because of the co product income. There is really no need for anyone to pay to send food waste to landfill, it all has a value even if it is only the cost of hauling it off to the nearest paid farm.

  12. I’ve been thinking a while on my own comment, above, & realised that one could say that “waste” defines the society we live in. Because what’s the alternatives? Totally efficient use of resources pretty well precludes any sort of “gifting” , sharing society. It’s the society of the ration card or communal kitchens. The society of the barracks.or prison.

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