Farmers 'forced' to throw away up to 40% of food grown for supermarkets

Kenyan farmers suppling UK and European supermarkets are being forced to discard as much as two-fifths of what they grow, an undercover investigation has revealed.

UK-based food waste campaign group Feeding the 5000 claims to have obtained photographic evidence that shows Kenyan farmers rejecting 40% of the crops they produce.

It says that some depots are discarding more than 20 tonnes of crops a day and forcing food disposal firms to sign a contract forbidding them to use any of it for human consumption.

Carrots, for instance, are ending up as livestock feed, while cosmetic grading of bananas is resulting in truckloads of the fruit being rejected.

Feeding the 5000 is using the evidence to highlight what it calls an "international food waste scandal" as part a global campaign which launched in Amsterdam last weekend with a free meal for thousands made from discarded food.

According to the group, official statistics on industrial and commercial food waste tend to leave out the waste hidden from the public eye occurring across the food supply chain.

It claims that 'ugly' fruit and vegetables on farms and in packhouses which fail to meet strict retail cosmetic specifications, can regularly amount to 20 - 30% or sometimes even 50% of a harvest.

"The message peddled by supermarkets and their representatives, and indeed some international institutions, that in rich countries most food waste comes from consumers, is a distortion of the facts," said Tristram Stuart, founder of Feeding the 5000.

"The reality is that the supply chain is the main source of preventable food waste as our investigative research shows."

The campaign is calling on retailers to exercise their influence to help farmers, manufacturers and consumers reduce waste from farm to fork. It will be taking its message to various cities throughout the world this year including Lisbon, Sydney and New York.

Maxine Perella


Food waste | retail | supply chain


Waste & resource management
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