A new study on food waste warns that more than 50 million tons of fruits and vegetables end up being discarded in Europe each year before they reach the point of sale, the main reason being aesthetic issues.

Today we know the result of a study developed by experts from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) in which it is concluded that more than 50 million tons of fruits and vegetables are discarded every year in Europe before they reach the point of sale. The main reason for this waste is a combination of the high quality standards of supermarkets, strict government regulations and the high expectations that consumers have when buying these foods in terms of size, shape and color.

Experts comment that the climatic impact of growing food that ends up being discarded, part of which is reused for animal feed or converted into other byproducts, is equivalent to the carbon emissions that would generate almost 400,000 combustion vehicles. Interestingly, this study comes shortly after the Joint Research Center of the European Union presented another one in which it was concluded that community consumers waste billions of kilos of fruits and vegetables per year. If we add the two parts of food that are wasted before reaching the market and when they are in the hands of the consumer, the result is something inconceivable.

To reach this conclusion, the experts analyzed in detail the food losses and waste of the European Economic Area, that is, of the 28 member countries of the EU and the members of the EFTA (European Free Trade Association), Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The researchers focused on quantifying how many foods were discarded annually before reaching the point of sale, as well as the reasons for which they were discarded, for example, when identifying reasons cite that in the United Kingdom, in potatoes and Carrots aesthetic issues are the most weight in the selection of foods.

In this sense, it is worthwhile to read this post in which we talked about the seven foods that represent almost 50% of the waste of fruits and vegetables in the retail channel of Sweden, apples, bananas, lettuce, sweet peppers, grapes , pears and tomatoes. In each country there are certain plant foods that are more susceptible to becoming waste for aesthetic reasons, which means that there is a wide variety of products that are discarded according to the tastes, demands and culinary tradition of consumers in each EU country.

For the experts, as for the whole society that is aware of it, it is shocking to know that a huge volume of food that is perfectly safe and edible is wasted, while a tenth of the population suffers malnutrition. They consider that it is necessary to relax the demands of consumers with the appearance of fruits and vegetables, since this would reduce food waste, improve the supply chain and reduce the climate impact of food production. Researchers suggest that it is necessary to increase awareness among consumers, applying policies towards sustainable purchases could promote the purchase and sale of so-called ‘ugly’ fruits and vegetables.

Overripe fruits and vegetables are perfectly edible and safe

Recall that according to the FAO (United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture) with regard to ugly fruits and vegetables, beauty and taste are in the interior, so it invites the supermarkets to act, since they have an important role to change this situation, but it is also necessary for consumers to examine their perception of the aesthetics of such foods. For FAO, the reduction of food waste is not a question of ethics, it is a matter of taking advantage of resources in a world in which food security is threatened by several factors. The truth is that at present, you can not think about aesthetic issues in the context of food, as it involves the waste of food and all the efforts and resources that have been allocated to production.

The researchers suggest a greater use of these ‘ugly’ products through discount sales, something that began to be carried out a few years ago, but can be considered insignificant initiatives. Focusing on the United Kingdom, the study points out that the changing political climate that it is experiencing (referring to Brexit) is also glimpsed in the agricultural industry, experts believe that leaving the EU may offer the opportunity to develop and implement new regulations. that favor the use and consumption of these foods, new rules currently not allowed by the European Union, such as the prohibition of aesthetic aspects to determine the ‘quality’ of fruits and vegetables.

Recall that there are those who believe that the figures on food waste in the world are exaggerated, this was the conclusion reached in a US study conducted by economists and agribusiness experts from the University of Colby, the University of Minnesota and the California State Polytechnic University. They believe that it is impossible to accurately quantify food waste because the definitions of food waste used by different agencies differ dramatically. But if we collect the independent data of each agency, we can verify that in all cases it is aimed at a high volume of food waste.

Apart from this study that seems to be biased, it is necessary to change many issues in all the links of the supply chain, it is also necessary a drastic change in the policies that are applied in each country in order to be able to approach the problem and reduce significantly discard food. You can know more details of the study through this article published on the website of the University of Edinburgh.

Image | Michael Stern

Via | Gastronomía y cía.