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.

Certified Organic Food Products

Organic certification is a process of certification for organic food producers and the producers of other organic agricultural products. Any business that is directly involved in the food production process can seek certification, and this includes the suppliers of seeds and growing materials, farmers, companies that process food items, and restaurants and retailers as well.

From one country to the next you will find that the requirements for organic certification vary, but there are usually production standards in place that dictate growing, storage, packaging, processing and shipping requirements.

These production standards require the avoidance of synthetic chemicals, like pesticides, food additives, fertilizers, antibiotics, organisms that are genetically modified, the use of sewage sludge and irradiation. They also require keeping detailed written records of sales and production, and the use of farmland that has been completely free of all chemical inputs for at least three or more years.

In order to obtain organic certification, it is also required that organic products be completely physically separated from non certified food products, and every certified organic site is required to undergo periodic inspections to show that standards are being maintained.

The concept of organic certification addresses a growing demand for organic food on a truly worldwide level. Certified organic food products exist to assure the quality of the food that we eat, while promoting commerce at the same time. In the earliest days of the organic movement, organic certification was not required but as more consumers turn toward organic food products through the more traditional channels like grocery stores and supermarkets, the need for certification has grown exponentially. In many countries the certification process is overseen by the government, which means that there are legal restrictions on using the term “organic”. Certified organic food product producers are also held to the same level of food health and safety standards as non-certified food producers.

What makes these certifications for organically produced foods such an outstanding idea is that they show consumers which food products can be trusted. Because certified organic food products are held to guidelines and standards, consumers who purchase food items that are certified organic can rest assured that they are grown right, without chemicals or additives, ensuring healthy and risk free food products. The organic movement is growing at a quick and steady pace as more consumers realize the health benefits associated with buying organic.

As more and more consumers turn toward certified organic food products to feed themselves and their families, the guidelines associated with organic certification tend to grow increasingly specific. Growing and processing food organically is not a difficult task at all for most food producers, but it does require that these companies take a long and hard look at the way that they regard the production of food, especially when it comes to growing naturally without pesticides or other chemicals and additives.

Preparing for Your Food Product Development Consultation

Whether you’re scaling an established product line or creating something entirely new from scratch, your food product development consultation will set the tone for the rest of the collaboration. It pays to be prepared – this guide will help you gather the materials and information that your development company will surely request.

Understanding Food Product Development

If this is your first time working with a product development firm, it helps to familiarize yourself with the services typically offered. Some firms keep things relatively basic – going no further than typical consulting – and others will have full scale laboratories that can analyze your product from top to bottom completely in-house.

Full service firms even have marketing experts on staff to direct everything from market research to launch, and development companies often have close connections with graphic designers and packaging agencies as well. Scour every development company website you can find so that you’ll know what the development company can likely handle and what you’ll have to take to a third-party resource.

What You Will Need

A strong description of your goals, current capabilities, and long-term projections are necessary. Your product development firm needs to know which resources you have at your disposal and how you plan to scale your product in the future.

Goals are important, but your recipe will take center stage. Your recipe should detail a list of ingredients by weight, the quality standards you use to choose ingredients, whether your ingredients are wet or dry, and the brands or formulations that you prefer. A detailed explanation of your current production process is also important: how long you marinade certain ingredients, whether you stir gently or vigorously, cooking and cooling times, etc.

The food product development company will also want a sample of your recipe as you make it.

Other non-recipe related requirements will include a workable budget and projections for scaling needs. You will also need to have a good idea of how you will approach production now and in the future – whether you use a co-packer, shared kitchen, or your own commercial prep space. These will all affect the way the development firm will approach your new commercially-viable product.

Before talking to any development firm, you’ll want to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The firm itself often provides this agreement – a firm that starts asking questions without an agreement should raise red flags. Stories of stolen recipes are rare, but surprisingly there is a market for such things.

Don’t worry about having every single piece of information documented and filed. The entire job of a food development company is to make the process easier for you, whether you are a brand new startup or an experienced culinary genius. Just get out there, keep an open mind, and let your initial consultation serve as a source of inspiration and motivation for the lengthy development process.

9 Deceiving Facts About the Food Industry

Eating healthy is always a good thing but don’t be fooled by food companies that use marketing or loopholes to trick you into thinking something is healthy when it actually isn’t. Before the 1950’s the average consumer wasn’t much concerned about the nutrition of their food. However, in the 1960’s companies started to notice consumers taking notice of what they eat. Let’s visit the top 9 Deceiving Facts the food industry doesn’t want you to know.

9. Sugar Free Products

It’s easy to blame sugar as the cause for the rapid increase in the countries obesity problem. However, the truth is we need sugar in moderation as part of a balanced diet. The biggest trick the food industry uses to say a product is sugar free has to do with chemicals. Sugar free sweeteners are some of the most toxic things we can consume and have been linked in an array of troubling health conditions. Look for products that use natural, unprocessed sugars like maple syrup or honey and avoid anything with high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.

8. Trans Fats

The US FDA’s guidelines state that any food product with an amount of fat under 0.5g per serving can be listed as 0g on the packaging. If you take a look at a lot of frozen and prepackaged foods you’ll see they print “0g Trans Fat” in bold on the front of their products. Simply look at the nutrition panel to see the ingredients to get the bigger picture. If they list any type of hydrogenated oil you can be sure this product will fail lab testing for 0% trans fat.

7. Serving Sizes

The easiest way for any food product to look healthier is by manipulating the serving sizes on the nutrition facts panel. If the item is something that most people would consume during one sitting logic says this is one serving. However, it’s not uncommon to find more and more companies decreasing serving sizes because they count on you not noticing. If the item says “servings per container: 3” you have to then multiple each listed nutritional fact item by 3!

6. Luxury Labeling

Would you pay more for a Mercedes than a Honda? Food companies know you would so they spend a lot of money on fancy packaging and marketing to turn that $2 can of spaghetti sauce into a $6 jar. The easiest way to ensure your money is going into a quality product is by comparing the ingredients on two similar items.

5. Peaches

Peaches easily bruise and are a favorite fruit of insects. This is why companies soak them in chemicals before shipping them to your local grocery store. It’s always a smart idea to purchase only organic produce but if you can’t make sure you wash these items aggressively before consuming them.

4. Defects

The US FDA has guidelines for unavoidable defects in food items, which they claim present no health hazards for humans. Taken straight from their handbook, canned mushrooms are allowed to contain 20 or more maggots of any size per 100 grams and golden raisins can contain an average of 1,250 or more insect fragments per 10 grams.

3. Aluminum Cans & Plastic Bottles

The chemical known as bisphenol A (BPA) is used to provide an anti-septic function to the food products it contains. Studies have shown BPA puts children and adolescents at greater risk of heart and kidney disease. The US FDA has since banned the chemical in food packaging but this hasn’t stopped companies whom make aluminum cans. In order to avoid BPA and other dangerous chemicals, choose glass whenever possible.

2. Ground Beef

Ground beef is made by gathering waste trimmings from multiple cuts of beef. It is then exposed to low heat so the fat can separate and finally sent through pipes to be treated with ammonia gasses. The US FDA allows beef products to be treated with ammonia to “clean” the meat from bacteria. Small batch and local beef producers follow different guidelines. Try to purchase meat locally when possible, from responsible organic farmers.

1. Bugs

The cochineal is a scale insect that produces carminic acid which is used to make food coloring. The bugs themselves are actually crushed to produce a vibrant red color used in food items most famously Starbucks Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino a few years back. Cochineals are considered safe for food consumption; however, many may be disgusted and concerned about eating a living thing.