Walmart is offering nearly $2 million in funding to industry non-profits that are fighting to reduce food waste in Canada.
The grants are part of the Walmart Foundation’s earlier promise to award about $19 million (US$15 million) to organizations that are innovating in food waste reduction and charitable food recovery.
The issue of food waste on an increasingly crowded planet has been gaining attention in recent years. That has brought more focus on how food manufacturers and retailers can contribute to solutions.
According to the United Nations, every year about one-third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally. It’s been estimated that about 45% of all fruit and vegetables, 35% of fish and seafood, 30% of cereals, 20% of dairy products and 20% of meat are lost annually.
Producing wasted food also consumes about one-quarter of all water used in agriculture. Another report, from Value Chain Management International, concluded that food waste in Canada totalled $31 billion in 2014, up 15% from 2010.
As part of its commitment to tackling the problem, Walmart expects to award between three and five grants of between $300,000 and $1 million, for a total of $1.89 million, in three areas:
- Prevention: Stopping waste from occurring by advancing the adoption of measurement tools and/or develop innovative prevention solutions;
- Recovery: Redistributing food to people through food recovery and the distribution of perishable food; and
- Recycling: Repurposing waste as energy, agriculture and other products.
Previously the Foundation gave US$1.5 million to Second Harvest to fund FoodRescue.ca, a site that helps businesses donate any surplus food to social programs. Another $450,000 was given to the University of Guelph toward the development of a low-cost nutritional supplement from fruit by-products that would normally go to landfill.
And earlier this year, more than $520,000 was given to the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity and Provision Coalition to conduct research on consumer and manufacturer perceptions about food loss.
Aside from support for other organizations, Walmart is also striving to reduce food waste within its own operations by discounting food nearing its best before date, donating more than 14.5 million pounds of food to food banks, and sending organic waste for composting rather than into landfill—food left to rot in landfill releases methane, a greenhouse gas.
“Today’s announcement will build upon our efforts to help accelerate momentum to reduce and prevent food waste and alleviate hunger in Canada by investing in infrastructure to move excess perishable food from facilities and farms to the charitable meal system,” said Walmart’s chief sustainability officer and president of the Walmart Foundation Kathleen McLaughlin, in a release.