The Avoidable Food-Waste Crisis

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Every year, approximately 35.5 million metric tonnes of food produced in Canada is lost and wasted, says a report by Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue organization. Of that, 32 per cent – equalling 11.2 million metric tonnes of lost food – is avoidable, and is edible food that could be redirected to support people in local communities.

The total financial value of this lost and wasted food is a staggering $49.5 billion.

Second Harvest released the figures January 17, 2019 in a report entitled ‘The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste’.  In concert with research partner Value Chain Management International, Second Harvest provided data gathered from 700 frontline food leaders. For some, the most surprising news is that the vast majority – 86 per cent – of the lost and wasted food takes place in the food industry and not in households as previously thought.

Research behind the report identifies the root causes of food loss and waste:

  • The acceptance of waste by the food industry as the cost of doing business, a belief sustained by low tipping and landfill fees;
  • Conservative best-before-dates that lead to industry and consumers throwing away food that is still safe and edible;
  • Pressure on producers to provide 100 per cent on-shelf availability and aesthetic perfection, particularly with fruits and vegetables, leading to over-production; and
  • Reluctance in the food industry to donate safe, edible surplus food despite Good Samaritan legislation that already exists to facilitate donation.

The report provides more than 100 actions for industry, industry organizations and government to begin to quantify food loss and waste, address the negative economic and environmental impacts, and support community food programs. Link to the report here:

Research for The Avoidable Food Waste Crisis was conducted by Value Chain Management International and funded by the Walmart Foundation.

Source: Second Harvest January 17, 2019 news release.