When it comes to who’s most responsible for reducing food loss and waste, Canadians aren’t playing the blame game. According to a new study by The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI), 69% of consumers said they themselves are most responsible for reducing food loss and waste. That’s followed by restaurants (65%), grocery stores (61%), food processors (58%), government (50%) and farmers (46%).
Consumers aren’t wrong in pointing the finger at themselves, either. A 2018 report from Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) estimates that 168 million tons of food are wasted in North America each year. The largest share of food loss and waste occurs at the consumer level (67 million tons a year), while 52 million tons are wasted at the industrial, commercial and institutional levels, and 49 million tons are wasted at pre-harvest.
“The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity’s mandate is to help the food system earn trust and we’ve identified food loss and waste as a serious issue that the whole food system needs to tackle together,” says Crystal Mackay, president of CCFI. “I think it’s heartening that consumers recognize themselves as a big piece of the puzzle.”
In the CCFI survey, throwing out leftovers was cited as the main cause of household food loss and waste, followed by food reaching the best-before date and buying too much food.
While only 39% strongly agreed they’re personally concerned about the amount of food loss and waste in Canada overall, 58% said they make every effort to reduce the amount of food they throw away at home and 42% said they waste less food than a year ago.
Many Canadians are making an effort, but there is a need for clear information and advice, says Mackay.
When asked what would be useful to help them reduce food loss and waste, 71% said tips to reduce food waste, 68% said a guide with tips to reduce food waste and “recycle food you can’t eat,” and 67% said information “to show me how reducing food waste can save money.”
To that end, CCFI is encouraging Canadians to visit BestFoodFacts.org for tips on reducing food waste and information about other food issues. The online resource enlists the help of more than 200 food system experts, from dietitians to university researchers and scientists.
“As consumers go online, they’re looking for accurate information from third-party sources,” says Mackay. “As we study trust, the trust in for-profit brands continues to erode and even more so with millennials. So, this need for a vehicle for third-party experts… to have a voice online is really evident.”
The site was launched five years ago by CCFI’s U.S. counterpart, The Center for Food Integrity, but now includes Canadian experts and Canadian content.