With Monday, 16 October, marking World Food Day, office catering supplier Order-In has highlighted the growing problem of food waste – amounting to between $8 billion and $10 billion annually.
“This is an exorbitant amount, considering an estimated 1.9 million Australians go without food because they can’t afford it, and nearly 3 million people are living in poverty – one quarter being children,” the company’s managing director Jonathan Rowley said.
A third of this waste is fresh food, according to Mr Rowley, while 27 per cent is leftovers and 15 per cent being packaged and long-life products.
In a bid to reduce the amount of food wasted, Mr Rowley is urging workplaces of all size to donate unused food – such as office fruit deliveries or surplus meals from catered events – to charitable organisations, and purchase in-season produce (which, incidentally, can also deliver cost savings due to the supply/demand determination of prices).
The use of biodegradable plates at functions which can be composted alongside leftovers is also encouraged alongside control of surplus food.
It comes as the ABC reports some 84 per cent of tomatoes grown in Australia are left to rot in fields because of the strict appearance requirements our major supermarkets place on growers.
The national news agency quotes University of the Sunshine Coast honours student Tara McKenzie, who has found just 45 per cent to 60 per cent of total harvestable crops actually reached consumers, with some growers leaving as much as 84 per cent of undamaged, edible tomatoes to rot in their fields.
"It was bleedingly obvious that the reason they weren't harvesting certain things … was because they weren’t meeting a certain product specification,” she said.