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AECOC report shows young people aged 25-34 waste the most food


The report ‘Habits for the use of food in Spanish households’ indicates that 11.7% of millennials believe they frequently waste their food due to poor planning, due to products expiration, or because they do not know how to take advantage of leftover food. 73% of users admit that they consume products once their expiration date is exceeded, in many cases due to ignorance of their true meaning.

A Spanish report produced by the AECOC Shopperview study platform finds that 11.7% of young people between 25 and 34 admit that they throw their food in the trash frequently, which makes them the age group that generates the most food waste in our country. According to the study, up to 22.1% of these young people consider the lack of knowledge of recipes to be one of the main reasons why they end up throwing away food.

Expanding the sample to the population as a whole, 91.6% of citizens say they do not usually throw away food, and only 7.7% consider that they waste food frequently. This data, based on the perceptions of citizens, contrasts with the results obtained by the Quantification Panel of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, which warns of a growth in food waste in Spanish households.

“This contrast shows that, on occasion, we are not aware of the large amount of both prepared and fresh foods that we discard, and this should make us reflect on the value of food beyond its price,” said the head of the project against food waste from AECOC, Núria de Pedraza.

Fruits and vegetables, the most wasted

The AECOC report shows how fruits and vegetables are, by far, the most commonly thrown away products. 67.2% of households regularly waste these foods, in contrast with 17.8% who end up throwing away bread and pastries and 15.8% who get rid of sauces. Only 6.3% of consumers say they end up discarding meat and fish.

 As for the reasons that lead to waste, 46.4% point to poor planning when making the purchase, while 35.4% consider that the shelf life of food is too short. 22.1% of young people between 25 and 34 years old add the fact that they don’t know any recipes for taking advantage of food scraps, while 23.9% of families with five or more members point to the lack of order and space in the fridge and the pantry as a cause of waste in their homes.

Smell and appearance, main indicators

The report also asks consumers about the reasons for deciding to throw away food. The smell is the most cited cause (39%), followed by appearance (35%). Only 14% of consumers cite the expiration date as the main indicator of discarding a product, while 9% blame the taste and 3% the best-before date.

In fact, the study shows the great confusion about the difference between expiration date and best-before date. Thus, 43% of consumers believe that a product can be consumed because it remains safe once it has expired. This confusion is especially significant among those over 65.

The confusion around this concept has an impact on citizens’ habits, since up to 73% of respondents acknowledge that they consume products once they have expired, compared with only 26.9% that always respect the expiration date.

VII AECOC Meeting Point

The VII AECOC Meeting Point will be held in the framework of AECOC’s 2nd Week against food waste on September 26th in Madrid. The event will bring together more than 300 European professionals from the agri-food chain to jointly fight against food waste.

The meeting, which analyses outstanding success stories from the primary sector, industry, food distribution and hospitality will serve to exchange ideas and experiences among the more than 300 public administration professionals, companies, associations of consumers and food banks assistants.


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Food wastage in the fruit and vegetable sector

Food wastage in the fruit and vegetable sector

As fresh fruits and vegetables have a limited shelf life, this requires efficient logistics throughout the entire chain to prevent waste. The environmental impact of fruit and vegetable consumption is relatively low and the nutritional value high. The RIVM1 calculated that the contribution of fruit and vegetables to climate change is low. The sector is doing everything it can to keep this contribution as low as possible. This involves preventing waste and making supply chains more sustainable.

According to the European Court of Auditors, one third of the food supply is wasted worldwide. There are no specific figures for the share of fruit and vegetables. The FUSIONS3 study found that in the EU, most food is wasted by consumers – around 53%. The rest takes place across the supply chain between production and retail.

The vast majority of fruit sold in the Netherlands is labelled Class I. However, Dutch retail chaions also sell Class II. Class II products may have cosmetic defects, such as double tomatoes, bell peppers with a nose, colour deviations or minor damage. Class II is also regularly sold to wholesalers and the market.

Data analysis and digitisation help to optimise chains. Innovations such as packaging the stems of tomato plants can also help eliminate waste. Moreover, there is a constant search for ways to reduce packaging materials with a joint industry effort in the Packaging Sustainability Plan for the Industry.

To avoid food wastage due to market disequilibrium, it is essential to recognise the position of the grower and guarantee a fair price. Class classification provides clarity in the chain, fair trade and high-quality products so that food waste is prevented. There should also be chain cooperation between producer, trade and retail, as well as an appropriate purchasing policy from retail that matches the needs of the consumer as closely as possible. Food should be offered to food banks. An initiative has recently been launched in Westland, called de Groente & Fruitbrigade, where products are sorted and prepared for food banks at a central point.

Source: Groenten Fruit Huis

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Mercabarna implementing plan to cut food waste

Among the steps being taken to cut waste at Mercabarna are the design of a new waste treatment system for the Central Fruit and Vegetable Market, which will start as a pilot scheme early this year.

Mercabarna has developed a plan to reduce the amount of food waste at the market, which is currently estimated at about 9,400 tons a year.

In a press release, Barcelona’s wholesale market said among the steps being taken to cut waste are the design of a new waste treatment system for the Central Fruit and Vegetable Market, which will start as a pilot scheme early this year.

It also said work underway to modernise the market includes insulating point-of-sale areas as a way to provide better condition for preserving fresh produce.

In addition, a Centre for Food Use is being set up in order to optimise the selection of food fit for sale and to enable its distribution among the social organisations that help people with few resources.

And there will be environmental education campaigns to raise awareness among market wholesalers and employees, and the 6,000 children who visit Mercabarna every year as part of the “5 a day” campaign.

Its ‘Strategic Plan for Food Use’ also sets out other measures it will take to reduce food waste, improve waste treatment and promote responsible consumption.

Image (via Mercabarna): the signatories of the manifesto for the reduction of food waste

The project kicked off with the signing of the “Manifesto for the reduction of food waste” by Mercabarna, the concessionary business association (Assocome) and the main wholesale syndicates for fruit and vegetables (AGEM) and fish (GMP).

The agreement sets out their clear commitment to “handling food more efficiently and making the supply chain more sustainable and responsible.”

The plan draws on research that suggested about 0.5% of the 2 million tons of food sold every year at Mercabarna is wasted.

“Even though this figure is well below that of other markets, shopping centres and homes, it still means that 9,400 tons of food does not reach the consumer,” the release says.

Main image (top) via Mercabarna

Learn more about Mercabarna in this new video:

“Discover Mercabarna, a ‘food city’ with more than 700 companies working to ensure the supply of fresh foods to over 10 million consumers.”

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Asda extends ‘wonky’ fruit & veg range

After a successful trial this year, UK supermarket chain Asda is adding sweet potatoes and garlic to its ‘wonky’ fruit and veg range and selling the range in more stores.

UK supermarket chain Asda is adding sweet potatoes and garlic to its ‘wonky’ fruit and veg range and selling the range in more stores.

The grocer said in a press release that the move is part of its ongoing efforts to cut food waste across the supply chain and to help farmers.

“Labelled Beautiful on the Inside, the wonky veg range currently includes crooked carrots, knobbly pears, bumpy apples and citrus fruits, all sold at reduced rates in their own dedicated in-store fixture. There will be different sizes of wonky garlic, and it will be a bit scruffier, but the garlic inside is still the same. Our wonky sweet potatoes will be all kinds of strange shapes – and by selling these, we’ll save 10% of the crop from being wasted. We’re planning to increase the range even further in 2016, so watch this space,” Asda said.

The wonky veg trial began at the start of this year in 5 stores – Grantham, Coventry, Dagenham, Bedminster (Bristol) and Wallington (Croydon). “It proved so popular that we’ve added it to more stores and the range is now sold in 25 stores,” Asda said.

Asda’s produce technical director Ian Harrison said the range has proved a hit and has also enabled Asda to flex its specifications across a wide variety of its standard produce lines.

“For example, we’re taking 340 more tonnes of standard and organic carrots which would previously have been out of spec. We’ve also relaxed specifications on other produce like green beans, chillies and standard sweet potatoes which has put a further 300 tonnes of produce onto our shelves, which is good news for farmers.

“We have more work to do and we’re committed to working with our growers to ensure we utilise more of their crops whether that’s in Wonky or in our standard ranges,” Harrison said.

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New project to cut food waste at Mercabarna

Food waste is in the firing line as Mercabarna commissions study on why it happens and how to reduce it within the precinct.

How to reduce food waste is the end goal of a study Mercabarna has commissioned from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and the Plataforma Aprovechamos los Alimentos (Let’s Make Use of Food Platform, PAA).

In a press release, Barcelona’s wholesale food hub said the study, expected to be completed toward the end of the year, will establish the volume and causes of food waste produced within its precinct and suggest areas of work and specific actions to reduce it to a minimum.

“This project shows our desire to keep looking for solutions that help us in the fight against food waste. The actions resulting from it will be added to those that we have been carrying out for many years, such as working with the Food Bank,” said Mercabarna managing director Josep Tejedo.

Photo courtesy of

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EU looking at how to increase acceptance of ‘ugly’ fruit & vegetables

How to increase consumer acceptance of imperfect fruit and vegetables is being examined as part of a European Commission behavioural study on food choices and eating habits.

How to increase consumer acceptance of imperfect fruit and vegetables is being examined as part of a European Commission behavioural study on food choices and eating habits.

The research, taking place in the context of part the Milan Expo 2015, is titled “A behavioural study on food choices and eating habits” and its publication expected by the end of this year, according to the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions.

It mentioned the research in its response to a petition on offering second-class fruit and vegetables in supermarkets. The petitioner, Germany’s Maxie Schlemmer-Schmidbauer, advocated the introduction of rules allowing fruit and vegetables which don’t meet the required standards to be sold in greengrocer’s shops and supermarkets, to prevent them from being destroyed.

Asked to respond, the Commission told the committee that while specific marketing standards remain in place for 10 types of fruit and vegetables, national authorities can permit the sale of all fruit and vegetables, regardless of their size and shape. “Member States can allow shops to sell products that do not respect the standards as long as they are labelled appropriately so that consumers can differentiate them from those categories defined by marketing standards (e.g.: ‘extra’, ‘class I’ and ‘class II’ fruit),” it said.

In its conclusion, the committee said current EU rules permit Member States to allow the marketing of misshapen fruits and vegetables provided that their presentation is not misleading for consumers. ”In co-operation with Member States and stakeholders, the Commission aims to promote good practices to prevent food waste including social innovation to facilitate use of misshapen fruit and vegetables in the food supply chain and by consumers,” it said.

Image by Taz [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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New bid to keep food out of bins


Potatoes, then bread and milk, are the UK’s most wasted foods, a new study by the retailer Sainsbury’s shows.

In the case of the spud, it’s estimated that around 733,000 tons are thrown out each year in the UK.

The research has been released by Sainsbury’s to launch its Food Rescue waste campaign. Among other things, the campaign provides recipes and handy tips to help people reduce their food waste.

The tips include:

  • Store potatoes in the cupboard rather than the fridge.
  • Keep all fruit in the fridge except pineapples and bananas, which are happier in the fruit bowl.
  • Keep leftover salad in a bowl and add a sheet of kitchen roll before topping with cling film.