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More than 40% of food becomes food waste, and Quebec families are a major culprit.

Sylvain Charlebois

Sylvain Charlebois
Senior Director, Agri-Food Analytical Sciences Laboratory, Dalhousie University, Special Collaboration

Reducing food waste at home is probably the best way to save money and thwart the effects of grocery store inflation. However, two recent reports indicate that we are still wasting too much.

Posted at 7:30am

Saving at the supermarket is a big challenge, so get creative.

First, the Quebec Food Processing Council (CTAQ) and the Retail Council of Canada (RCCC), through Léger, issued a fairly clear statement last week on Quebec household food waste. Because it is a survey, nobody went to the dormitories to check and measure the level of waste, but the report gives us very good indicators. The survey targets only Quebec households, but similar results can be seen elsewhere in the country. We waste a lot. Approximately 58% of all food produced in Canada, or 35.5 million tons, is lost or wasted, and more than 40% of that amount is wasted by consumers.

The report’s findings are as predictable as they are disturbing. First, forgetting seems to be the biggest problem. By not knowing the inventory of the refrigerator and pantry, the consumer loses food. Additionally, 51% of Quebecers throw away food because they forget or because they mismanage the household’s food inventory.

High-income households, with or without children, exhibit the worst wasteful behaviors. Parents’ busy lives can encourage waste. Only 22% of households report not wasting anything at all.

Best before dates are the second factor driving people to waste. In fact, 40% of households throw away food past its sell-by date. Young people aged 18-34 waste more at 50%. Surprisingly, 69% of respondents admit to consuming products past their expiration date. UK chain Morrison’s has just scrapped expiration dates on milk, encouraging consumers to use their senses, smell, sight and taste to manage risk. Morrison’s is the first chain to adopt such a policy…there will certainly be others.

Finally, 9% of respondents admit to throwing away food because the product didn’t taste as expected. Too high expectations or pure whim, it doesn’t matter, the result is the same.

And this week, Recyc-Québec has provided us with new data, always with the same observation. We waste too much. More than 40% of food becomes food waste, and Quebec families are a major culprit.

The message is simply summed up: just eat whatever you buy as much as possible. But the truth is, with the lives we lead, it’s easier said than done. You have to think about it, think about it, talk about it and most of all adapt.

Nobody wastes on purpose. Of course, the vast majority of people want to waste as little as possible, but lifestyle can sometimes complicate things. When there is excessive food inflation, waste is of particular concern. More than 71% of Quebec households want to reduce waste due to high food prices. A society that values ​​food waste less.

In order to eat everything you buy, you need to freeze, plan, and most importantly, think about the lost money. According to some estimates by VCM International Group, an average Canadian household in Ontario wastes about $3,000 worth of food every year. This is three times the additional sum each household has to pay due to food inflation. Food waste is the one bill we never get but have to pay every day.

To reduce food waste, we must rely on our conscience, not our guilt. We need to talk about it and develop new technologies in retail, in restaurants and even in our homes. There are solutions. Whether it’s labels or smart fridges that inform consumers about the presence of pathogens or encourage them to use applications like Flashfood, FoodHero or TooGoodToGo, every gesture counts. Education is also becoming a powerful tool. For example, we can freeze anything, or almost, we have to say it and repeat it.

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