With sustainable supply chains being the topic these days, it appears that food supply chains aren't a shining example of sustainable. supply chains. Did you know that 30% of all food in Italy is wasted? That is indeed a lot and I cannot think of any other supply chain where this much of what is produced isn't even consumed or used at all. Can you?
Not only are we wasting perfectly good food, we're also wasting resources by producing, processing and transporting food that is not going to be eaten in any case. What achievement is there, say, in a supermarket chain claiming to have reduced its (logistical) carbon footprint when much of what sits on its food shelves never makes it into anyone's stomach and is simply thrown away?
I remember how surprised I was when I was studying for my MSc in GIS in the UK some 10 years ago and saw that the food in supermarkets had a Sell-By date and a Best-Before date (in Norway we then and and now still only have Best-Before dates). I soon learned that if I went to the supermarket an hour or so before closing time, today's Sell-By food was on sale at half price or less...a welcome money-saver for a poor student.
I came across the food waste issue when zapping through my TV channels the other day, where food supply chains happened to be the main topic of that day's episode of Horizons, a BBC series that looks at what will be the greatest business challenges facing the planet over the next decade, who will solve them, and how?
Horizons will explore the soaring global population, which will have increased 10% by the year 2020. It will visit areas where population density influences crucial global issues such as safe living and food supply. Horizons will address the need for better transport systems, and it will examine how the need to reduce pollution is encouraging innovators to reduce the carbon footprint our lifestyle creates. It will look at food and land security, ranging from some of the world’s driest places with inadequate water, to countries where rising sea levels result in excessive water. In each programme Horizons will investigate a country that is not only experiencing some of the problems highlighted by our experts, but is also tackling those problems in novel and innovative ways that could provide a model for other countries to follow.
Episode 10 of Horizons looked at food supply chains and takes place in Italy, home to good food and wine, but apparently also home to food waste. But some Italian companies are tackling this issue head on:
bIt is quite disheartening to think how much food that is simply wasted without being used, but it is good to see thet there are simple solutions, and think this video really shows what how a sustainable supply chain extends from the first producer to the last consumer. Wasting less food is certainly a good thing to do, but shouldn't it perhaps be applied to other consumer goods as well? That is, only produce enough for consumption, not overproduce and then waste?