Keeping it fresh: fighting against food waste
As sustainability efforts continue across consumer industries, one area somewhat overlooked in favour of anti-plastic initiatives is food waste. Callum Tyndall talks to Simon Lee, co-founder of It’s Fresh!, about food waste and how it can be reduced.
Image Courtesy of nadianb/Shutterstock.com
There are an estimated 600,000 vegans and approximately two million vegetarians in Britain, with figures from The Vegan Society showing that the number of vegans doubled from 0.25% in 2014 to 1.16% in 2018.
To cater to this increase of changing dietary requirements, the industry is offering various solutions. We spoke to Louise Palmer-Masterton of plant-based restaurant Stem + Glory to find out more.
CEO of Stem + Glory
Could you give us an overview of the food market, particularly the fruit sector, as it currently relates to food waste?
The United Nations quotes that 2 billion metric tonnes of food is wasted per annum, which is roughly 1/3 of all food produced globally – for fruit and veg that figure can sometimes be as high as 45%.
Wasting food really does waste everything – some might say it’s just the cost of doing business – at It’s Fresh! we say the industry has to make changes in order to take better care of both our food and the precious resources that are used to grow, pick, pack, ship and merchandise globally (e.g. water, fuel, labour, energy).
Britons bin a staggering £13bn worth of food a year according to the government’s latest stats and, according to Wrap, food waste in the home costs the average UK household £700 per year. And in most developed countries, over half of all food waste takes place in the home.
Currently an area larger than China and 25% of the world’s fresh water supply is used to grow food that is never eaten, according to the United Nations. At the current rate, an additional 2.3 billion people will be on the planet by 2050 – which will require a 60%-70% increase in global food production unless we dramatically reduce our food waste.
You’ve developed a solution to extend shelf life for produce, can you explain how it works?
It’s Fresh!’s patented ‘active ingredient’ comes in several discreet but high-tech delivery systems that removes the ripening hormone from around fresh produce and is helping the global supply chain to maximise value from growing, transporting and retailing top-quality produce for consumers. By extending quality, prolonging freshness and enhancing flavour in a secure and sustainable way, It’s Fresh! helps to address the key industry challenges of food security, profitability and global food waste.
What are the biggest developments you’re seeing in regards to combatting food waste?
Combatting food waste takes a variety of different measures as there is no ‘silver bullet’. Education and best practice at all levels is key so that the knowledge of how to handle, store and consume fresh produce is widely known and accepted. Then there is innovation; this comes in many different forms, from ways to enhance the robustness of the chill chain via high tech sensors to several alternative forms of packaging; modified atmosphere, coatings and ethylene removal systems. At It’s Fresh! we see all of these as complimentary to our technology.
What are the biggest hurdles to still overcome in regards to reducing food waste?
From the perspective of a provider of innovation, the biggest hurdle is convincing the supply chain to continue to invest in innovation. Without their engagement and investment, even the best ideas will fail to see the light of day. Sadly, at present, there is little appetite for investment as the race to charge the lowest price continues. However, sooner or later we will have reached rock bottom and the key differentiating factor will be ‘quality’ and at that point we believe the mindset will change with consumer demand and those looking to gain an advantage will begin to re-invest.