Food waste is fast becoming the specialist subject for many a celebrity chef; did we really just see Hugh rooting through rubbish and pulling out a discarded loaf, proclaiming he could have “made a bread pudding out of this”?
As food producers, we need to think carefully about how we reduce waste while still maintaining and increasing our sales.
At the IGD Working On Waste discussion, I learnt about the millions of chickens being wasted and how much bread never gets eaten. The recurring theme was that everything was better in the 70s, but none of the experts in the room could work out why. But we now have more people using food banks, low disposable incomes and child poverty - so surely waste should be at its lowest?
The reality is that most of us reading this are employed to sell food. Reducing domestic food waste means not selling as much (not a good option) or encouraging people to eat more (also not a good option; ‘fat’ is another form of waste costing society more).
Food waste wasn’t a problem in the 70s: like most mums, mine was a ruthless domestic manager who bought food to a meal plan and managed the stock before reordering. I am told that in the ‘modern home’ people don’t know what to cook for tea even half an hour before. Is it the case that no ‘one person’ cooks or is responsible for domestic management any more?
So what can we do? Vilify the housewife? She is already a terrible mum filing lunchboxes with junk and now can’t even manage the household waste! And perhaps Hugh is right: he could have made a bread pudding, but dropped it around before I went shopping, cutting retail out completely - after all isn’t that the part that went wrong?
But there is hope: I believe technology will outpace human behaviour and provide the solution. Domestic-sized AD plants and home rubbish-burning boilers are not far away. The home of the future will be an efficient producer of energy, fuelled by and consuming its own domestic waste. In the meantime, I’d much rather be drinking wine 70s-style with Keith Floyd than rooting through rubbish with Hugh any day.
Rich Clothier is MD of Wyke Farms