Food wastage is a global issue that may not be as outstanding but is vitally crucial which affects both the developed and developing countries around the world. We might not realise how great of a problem food waste is because we are all blind to its effects (Maria et al, 2014, P. 1). To understand food waste better, we must first understand its meaning. Food wastes are considered to be food that are edible but for whatever reason it is not eaten (Schapper et al, 2010, P. 307). It also refers to food suitable for human consumption that is discarded, whether it is kept over its expiry date or left to rot. This often happens because of individuals shopping or eating habits or different reasons such as oversupply due to market demands, the economic nature of a country and poor inventory management. In industrialised states, food insecurities are usually concealed by a country’s economic wealth. Even though Australia is a fully industrialised country it cannot be considered as a steadily food secure country as the food wastage problem there has earned a reputation and spotlight as it is continuously growing and spreading and has the possibility to menace the security and environment of the country.
According to statistic, Australia wastes approximately eight billion dollars and seven million tonnes of food fit for human consumption per year which is widely caused at the consumer and retail levels. In general, consumers including ourselves has been fooled and seduced into purchasing large amounts of food can save money but in reality, these “savings” will eventually dissipate if the food are wasted and thrown away due to expiration and food fatigue or in other words, the feeling of lethargic after eating. Marketing ploys which manipulates consumers preference for perfection is also a cause of food waste as imperfection in produce are much to be disposed of at supermarkets. Odd looking produce such as misshapen potato and bananas not curved enough or conjoined to fit conventional ideas are considered as imperfect produce that won’t make it onto the shelves and are routinely being disposed by supermarkets. It is also humans fault that food is being wasted because humans simply can’t accept the fact and appreciate anything unconventional if presented to us as food that are misshaped or “ugly” are viewed as spoiled and inedible but in reality, they are not necessarily bad and can still be purchased and used in different kind of dishes like soup (Dana 2015). This caused consumers to avoid quality produce because of its appearance due to supermarkets who glamorise perfection. Adding on to that, somewhere along the production and supply chain level, from the grower or manufacturer of produce to distributor then retailer and finally end consumer, food is lost, destroyed, split and even squandered (The Sunday Morning Herald 2017). In relation to that, while food is being discarded, many Australians who don’t have enough food are working countless of hours on a daily basis to feed themselves. In fact, hunger in Australia is a largely undisclosed crisis and the need for food relief is increasing exponentially as it has been reported that one in six Australians struggles with food insecurity every year despite its reputation of being a “lucky country” (Foodbank 2015).
In contrast to the above, in the United States, Americans undoubtedly wins the Guinness World Record of food waste as the amount of food being discarded away annually in the US is unfathomable. According to The New York Times, the average American wastes 40 percent of food that comes into their homes and to sum it up, 60 metric tonnes of food, approximately at 162 billion dollars is being wasted in the United States each year (MNN 2015). The reasons of food wastage in the US are no different than those in Australia. Grocery stores and supermarkets in the US also routinely disposed produce that looks distorted or even having minor blemishes, whereas a different reason, because of impracticality and inflexibility in cosmetic standards, large amount of fresh produce grown in the US are used as food for livestock, left to rot or dumped right from the field to landfill (The Atlantic 2016). However, in the world’s most populated country, China, waste more than 35 million tonnes of food each year which could feed more than 100 million people. Like Australia, China lost a small portion of food during the food supply chain stage and most of the food wasted is at the consumer level, outside of Chinese homes which primarily leads to restaurants who are most accountable for the food wastes. Adding on, in most Asian countries, food waste is also affected by cultural attitudes and beliefs.
A good example would be conjoined produce like bananas. Because of superstitious belief, most of the people in Asian countries specifically the elders believe that eating a conjoined banana or something distorted will lead to having conjoined children or with disabilities when born and this leads to the disposal of food. The total number of food waste will undoubtedly decrease but will most likely increase in both the developed and developing countries as population and consumption is growing exponentially in industrialising parts of the world (Olivia 2018). Hence, tackling food waste problem is paramount for confronting world hunger, poverty and climate change. The Australian Government has outlined few food waste policies as strategies for businesses and others alike in order to reduce and manage food waste in Australia. By supporting efficiency and innovation in agriculture, businesses can identify opportunities to use undesirable produce for example misshapen or “ugly” carrots that are bent or broken are packed into quality packaged carrots sticks and sale them in supermarkets.
In relation to that, to make sure packaging is used effectively and sustainably, The Australian Government has partnered with diverse authorities and industries through the Australian Packaging Covenant to ensure packaging design can be better improve in order to boost the shelf-life of food products and increase the period for recycling the packaging. Aside from that, in Australia, it is a challenge to make other food waste treatment technologies cost-effective because of cheap landfill compared to other parts of the world. This results to other treatment methods such as composting and bio digestion more cost-effective possibilities for business.
To address this, there are a number of states in Australia investing in possible treatment technology and infrastructure, specifically for organic waste for example, in Western Australia, to create compost for agricultural uses, handling food waste and producing electricity, a bio digester was opened. Besides that, the Australian Government has also encouraged businesses to partner between food and grocery retailers, supermarkets and charitable organisations. This can help retailers meet their food waste reduction objective and assist charities to reduce impoverishment and poverty as well as minimizing food insecurity (Department of the Environment and Energy 2017). Other county like China has implements policies such as the closing of luxurious banquets, making restaurants to stop charging minimum fees which results in ordering of extra food that could be finished and launched a grassroot level campaign such as the Empty Your Plate campaign as measures but have only brought little to no effects in attitudes and changes (Lester 2017). Looking at France, a global leader in curbing food waste and the first country in the world to ban grocery stores and supermarkets from discarding away unsold produce and produce which are near their expiration dates are obliged be donated to food banks and approved charities. This new legislation was introduced in France in 2016. Grocery stores and supermarkets who does not abide to this law whether intentionally or unintentionally will have legal action to be taken against them (The Guardian 2016).
As stated in past research, different stretch in logistics and supply chain management areas such as packaging and labelling, quality and process control, supply and demand management, shelf-life management, and inventory management are all linked to food waste. However, logistics and supply chain management are not only the starting point of food waste but also the solution and the end for reducing it (Kristina et al, 2017, P. 318). In order to minimize food waste in food supply chain, is to have materials and information or data flows to be changed by modifying logistics activities. By distinguishing logistics activities, what is modified concerning food waste can be spotted. Research put into account the convenience and advantage of implicating specific characters or actors in the food supply chain so that food waste can be reduce and to ensure a better understanding of the characters or actors participation which they are also pinpointed for each solution (Kristina et al, 2017, P. 319).
Other option for reducing food waste by quality-controlled logistics is by using intelligent packaging (IP) throughout the supply chain. Intelligent packaging has the ability to detect the quality of foods across the entire supply chain as well as parts that previously couldn’t be monitored. Intelligent packaging systems transmits information that relates to the quality and safety of the packaged produce that detects the produce condition or state during its life cycle. Intelligent packaging has sensors and indicators that measures the quality of the produce and its surroundings or environmental conditions (Jenneke et al, 2017, P. 1673). Identifying production location is also a method to reduce food waste in the supply chain. One way to reduce time that food spends in the supply chain is by considering its production location.
An excellent example would be chilled salmon this is because of the fish high fat content which makes it difficult to remove its bones unless it is harvested for at least 4 days. In the first few days of harvesting the salmon, it can be transported to industrial production sites that are closer to consumers. This helps the product to have a longer shelf life when it arrives the stores as it doesn’t need to be transport as far before it is harvested (Gavin 2017). Safety of food products is one of the primary objectives stated in food law. Large number of food production in the world does not arrive at consumer in desired state which leads to food waste. A considerable portion of these losses is caused by differences in environmental conditions. Hence, companies are still in search and trying to innovate supply chain technologies that can further reduce food waste. Many different produce like fruits and vegetables needs different storage and temperature conditions when transported as the produce comes from different parts of the world. Hence, the Intelligent Container is introduced, an equipment that can monitor not only the current air temperature but also the actual temperature of the produce. By continuously monitoring the quality of the produce, a much better planning can be performed, and produce can be delivered according to the First Expired First Out principle. In relation to this, longer lasting produce will be transported at a later time for more distance consumers and vice versa (Otaris 2018).
Adding on, in Switzerland, innovation in foodstuffs transit has also been introduced. The Federal Laboratories for Material Science and Technology has come up with a device specifically sensors to monitor and keep track the condition of produce when it is being transported from the manufacturer or producer to retailers. Because a slight change in minutes or seconds are able to seriously change the speed of picked produce to ripen, the sensor will continuously provide feedback and information on the temperature change as well as records the happenings of the fruit in the pallet as attentively as possible (OpenMind 2018). In contrast to smarter transit, the utilisation of biosensors is also one of the most innovative possibility of decreasing food waste. The use of biosensors is that it can identify and detect contaminants in food, in real-time then sends information in quantifiable ways to decrease food waste, so solutions and actions can be taken immediately to prevent identical issue from happening in the possible future. This innovation, assist people to live a healthier life as it helps to prevent both food waste and food contamination (Merchandise Warehouse 2018). As the world is heading towards globalisation and dynamism as well as population and consumption continuously increasing, food wastage, a global phenomenon will not only grow simultaneously but also cause more suffering to people who are living in hunger and poverty (Hindawi et al, 2016, P. 1).
In conclusion, state government must enact more stricter rules and regulations like those of France to ensure food waste problem are reduce not drastically but slowly because a little goes a long way. Finally, we as consumers and citizens should be more aware of food waste in our own country as it is only up to each one of us to reduce and avoid it as far as possible to ensure everyone lives a better life without hunger and poverty but with joy and happiness.
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