Half the Food Produced Globally Is – Wasted?

One year ago, a report was released by the United Nations Environment Program that over half of the food produced globally is lost, wasted or discarded as a result of inefficiency in the human-managed food chain. This is a staggering fact that is substantiated by data from countries all around the world. It seems the food crisis that we are currently facing, blamed largely on decreasing yields due to climate change, depleted soil, lack of adequate water, and so on, is more a crisis of management than production. In fact, there is strong evidence, according to UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, that the world could feed it’s entire population, right now, by simply becoming more efficient and reducing the horrific waste that is endemic to the food production industry.

Some figures:

• Up to 25% of all fresh fruits and vegetables in the US is lost between field and table.
• In Australia, food waste makes up half of that country’s landfill.
• In the United Kingdom 30% of all food purchased every year is not eaten.
• Losses in the field between planting and harvesting are around 40% of the potential harvest in developing countries due to pests and pathogens.
• In Africa, 30% of landed fish is lost through discards and spoilage.
• Approximately 30 million metric tons of fish are discarded at sea every year.
• India looses up to 50% of it’s fresh food because of inadequate storage and distribution.
• In South East Asia 37% of rice is lost between field and table. In China, the figure is up to 45%, in Vietnam, it’s estimated to be 80%!

Another factor that accentuates the waste factor in America and Great Britain is the draconian penalties on food suppliers for failing to deliver agreed upon quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the year. To avoid these crippling penalties, farmers are required to produce a much larger crop than can actually be sold or processed as a form of insurance against poor weather or other factors that might reduce their yield. In some instances, up to 30% of a crop is left to rot. Another 30% of that crop never reaches the supermarket because it is ‘sub standard’ or substantially trimmed for packaging purposes. Of the final produce that reaches our supermarkets, up to 50% is then thrown away.

While it is impossible to calculate the wastage of food from restaurants and all other places where food is served, the final figures of how much food is consumed, compared to how much is produced, must be an astonishingly small percentage. This system of putting incredible pressure on our food producers only so that at least half of what is produced can be thrown away, is clearly unsustainable.

This same study indicates that up to 25% of the world’s current food production capacity may be lost due to “environmental breakdowns” by 2050. Already, cereal yields have stagnated worldwide and fish landings are steadily declining. As the world’s population presses towards 9.5 billion by the year 2050 the demand on the world’s limited resources will reach a breaking point. We cannot ‘produce’ our way out of the next crisis, we must ‘conserve’ our way out.

What can you do?

1. Plan more carefully the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables that your family will consume on a weekly basis and limit your purchases to that amount.
2. When food is on the verge of going bad, cook it and freeze it. This works well with excess veggies that can be made into a soup and frozen, or apples which can be made into applesauce and kept longer.

3. Encourage your family to take smaller portions and go back for more if still hungry rather than filling your plate and throwing half away.
4. Learn to be creative with leftovers. Most meals can be recycled easily the next day into another meal or added to a soup or packed for lunches.
5. Feed your pet table scraps. In most cases, your animal will be healthier and that last piece of something that is too small to save will not be wasted.
6. If you shop at a store with large packs of produce or meat, consider shopping with a friend so you can divide the packages and not have excess food in your frige.
7. At restaurants, bring a Tupperware to take home leftovers or opt to share a meal if the servings are particularly large, or simply eat an appetizer and soup or desert.
8. If you find you’ve made more than your family can eat of something, bring the leftovers in to your office to share. Maybe have a potluck Thursday when leftovers can be pooled for a fun meal.
9. Shop at your local farmers market to help small scale farmers and get your produce days after harvest instead of weeks at the supermarket.

Tips for Food Product Development

A significant number of companies around the globe are not actively developing any new food products. Whereas, many companies those are engaged in new food product development, do not explicitly involve the consumers in their market research. This article lists out some innovations in the field of food product development which can be adopted by various companies to both enrich the food quality and thus increase their business.

The basic segment of manufacturing food products depends on how well you pack your product. Some of the innovations that can be adopted in food packaging are:

  • New packaging that can be used both in microwave and oven and thus increases versatility.
  • New packaging materials to be used to improve product shelf-life, quality and freshness.
  • Different packaging that helps in presenting the food product in different and new ways. This can be done by creating new graphic designs and packaging shapes for your product.
  • Packaging patterns that can increase the ease of use. For instance, milk cartons that are opened easily.

However, whatever be the packaging strategy, the major factor in food product development is the food stuff itself. The same is the case with beverage development. To create development in that area one needs to bring new ethnic concepts and has to start producing organic and health foods. Addition of vitamins, bacterial cultures and minerals, i.e. fortification, will also help. Some other innovations that could help in food product development include:

  • Merging – this refers to the merging of 2 complimentary or similar flavors, for instance, some chocolates where white chocolate and milk are brought together. This can also mean bringing complimentary products together, for instance some of the Lunchable products where, ham, crackers and cheese are brought together in the same packaging.
  • Segmentation – this is where the manufacturer finds simple ways to allow customers to customize products to their personal needs. For instance the ‘salt-n-shake’ potato chips where a separate sachet of salt in provided so that the consumer gets the chance to decide the quantity of salt they want to apply to the chips. Another form of segmentation is the ‘multi-packs’ offer wherein the customer gets to use only a part of the product at one time depending on the number of servings required.
  • Composite materials – this can be interpreted as the concept of combining foods that are different properties into a single structure. This strategy is usually present in cereal bars, multi-vitamins, filled pasta, ‘bubble-and-squeak’ and several other products, especially the ones where the consumers are looking for ease of use.
  • Preliminary action – this is a very commonly applied principle for food product development. Some examples in this case would be de-seeded vegetables and pre-cooked meals.

Almost similar strategies should be adopted in beverage development. For instance, recognizing consumer needs in the market which can be filled by a new innovative beverage brand is one of the first step in the beverage development. Similarly, in order to maximize taste and the functionality of the new beverage brand, beverage formulation, which is a very intricate process should be done thoroughly allow enough time to go through every possible ingredient options.

How To Buy Food Products Online

Did you know that you can buy food products online? While it’s easy to do it, you need to be very cautious when making the purchase. To help you out here are some of the things that you should do:

Know your Rights

You need to know your rights as a customer. One of your rights is to have all the information that you need about the product that you are buying. Before you make the purchase, you should be able to see the date of manufacture of the product. You should also be able to see the ingredients used in making the food product.

It’s also your right to have a cooling-off period. In most of the cases the period is seven working days. During this time you can cancel your order any time unless you have ordered a perishable product. Before you make the purchase you should ensure that the site you want to buy from gives you the cooling-off period.

What to Accept and Reject

After you have placed your order the company will pack your product and send it to you within the agreed time. When you receive the product you shouldn’t accept it unless it’s what you ordered. As rule of thumb you shouldn’t accept the product if:

  • It’s dented, swollen or the can is leaking
  • Is damaged or in an imperfect packaging
  • Is soiled or moldy
  • You have doubts about its quality

If you don’t like the product that is sent to you, you should resend it to the company and write to the company explaining the reasons why you have rejected it.

You should wait for the company to respond to your message and send you the right product. If you the company doesn’t respond to your message in time and doesn’t send you the product that you are looking for you should launch a complain. When filing the complaint you should include the date of order, what you had ordered, amount paid, reference number, reason for complaint and any other relevant information.

If you aren’t satisfied with the response that you get from the company you should contact the local authority where the company is based.

Conclusion

This is what you need to know about buying food products online. To have an easy time and buy the right product, you should do your research and only work with the reputable companies dealing with the product that you are interested in.

Understanding The Role Of Packaging In The Food Industry

For businesses involved in the manufacturing and retail of food products, the packaging is more than just a pretty container to attract the attention of buyers. It is a vital part of the product and as such, it could make or break any product launch. Unfortunately, this fact is lost on many retailers and manufacturers. The result: domestic food and beverage recalls have tripled since 1999. That is a staggering fact that should make any food-related business think more of their product’s packaging.

It is not a secret that the packaging of food and beverage greatly influences the experience of consumers with your product. For instance, does it take plenty of struggling for the consumer just to get to the product? One might think that it could be a minor hassle for consumers but this little inconvenience could turn them off from your product. It is therefore important that you understand the role of packaging in the food industry.

First of all, it’s most important job is to protect the product. You want your product to reach your clientele in one piece. This means that the container should stand the common stresses the package is subjected to during handling and transport of the products from the point of production to retail shelves.

Aside from protecting the product, it is important that food containers be safe. This means that it should be designed to avoid product recalls due to contamination and other health hazards. The materials used for the container should therefore be safe. Rigorous testing should be done to make sure that it would not contaminate or jeopardize the safety of the products for human consumption.

Another thing that a product container should achieve is to keep products fresh. Some food products are meant to be consumed in their freshest state. The package should keep products’ appearance in the best possible way. The quality of the food product should also be maintained.

The fourth role is for branding purposes. The packaging should be designed with a concrete plan behind it. This means that you should have clear identity for your brand that you want to project. Would you go for convenience? What about appeal? The things is, no matter what you choose, you have to make sure that the packaging should be true to all its other roles.

The food industry is a competitive one especially today when products meant to be consumed on the go are becoming very popular and any business should make it a priority to maximize the branding potential of product packaging.