The issue of food waste has attracted global attention due to its impacts on the environment, losses to the economy, and food insecurity. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that up to one-third of all food produced globally is lost or wasted.
The ABC’s ‘War on Waste’ program has raised public awareness in Australia. Annually, it is estimated that food waste cost the economy $20 billion. Australian consumers throw away around 3.1 million tonnes of edible food a year, and another 2.2 million tonnes is disposed by the commercial and industrial sector.
If Australia is to meet its goal of reducing food waste by 50 per cent by 2030 as outlined in the National Food Waste Strategy, cross-sectoral collaboration and cooperation between industries, businesses, research bodies, non-government organisations, local councils and community groups will be required. As a member of the Primary Production Supply Chain Advisory Group, QFF is working closely with government, retailers and food processors to identify areas that need improvement.
The job of addressing food waste extends right across the supply chain but often the impacts are first felt on-farm. Positive examples such as Growcom member Natural Evolution Foods (Rob and Krista Watkins) have been included in the strategy under examples of innovative food waste solutions for their transformation of unwanted bananas into value-added products including gluten-free banana flour and a range of ointments. The Watkins too were recently featured on the latest ABC ‘War on Waste’ program.
Queensland farmers are leading the sector-wide push to reduce waste by driving supply chain innovation to find a market for ‘waste’ products. By using produce normally rejected by consumer standards to create products that re-imagine and work within the current consumer demand model, farmers are realising value-add opportunities.
Farm production systems are carefully controlled operations that deliver products to meet on-supply contracts and consumer expectations. While farmers continue to play their role in reducing on-farm waste, the reality is that while rigid consumer/retailer standards remain a whole of supply chain solution will never be achieved.