Supermarkets and waste

Waste of edible food

In UK, we throw away 30% of all food produced. That is around 14 million tonnes / year – most is wasted through the 7 main supermarkets – and it is thought that around 4 million tonnes (29%) of this is still edible.

For example, the biggest carrot farm in the UK supplies 10% of all carrots (290 tonnes per day). They supply them as whole, sliced and diced carrots but still waste 3,000 tonnes per year due to crazy requirements from supermarkets, who will reject them due to being:

  • the wrong size
  • the wrong shape
  • having blemishes
  • being broken

We throw away 30% of all food produced…

UK farmers struggling

​50% of British farms are losing money – we need to return back to basics and take all product. It is the classics chicken and egg problem  – supermarkets blame customers for wanting perfect product, customers and farmers blame supermarkets for demanding perfect product to give a commercial edge over competition.

Some Supermarkets will cancel orders at the last minute without any compensation to the farmer – not only is the farmer out of pocket but food already harvested for the order goes to waste, often being ploughed back into the ground.

Supermarkets claim that a lot of the surplus food goes to anaerobic digestion plants (to produce low cost, low carbon renewable energy) but a good proportion of this produce is still perfectly OK for human consumption.

To help reduce this food waste there is now a trend called ‘Skip diving’. This is finding food in supermarket bins late at night and using it to feed yourself or provide food for restaurants / cafes. This was pioneered by a not-for-profit café in Bristol called ‘Skipchen’.

‘Skip diving’ helps reduce food waste – but be careful!