Named “The Warehouse”, the shop is the latest initiative of The Real Junk Food Project (TRJFP), a charitable company set up to reduce food waste. Along with their network of cafes that use otherwise wasted food, the Warehouse is having a positive influence not only in reducing food waste, but also in increasing access to nutritious food for struggling families.
Food wastage is a huge problem in the Western world. According to “WRAP’, a government back food waste reduction charity in the UK, 235, 000 tonnes of food was wasted by supermarkets in the UK just last year. Of that figure, half (115, 000) tonnes was found to be “perfectly edible and practically avoidable”.
Meanwhile in Australia alone, as much as 44 million tonnes of food is wasted annually. This equates to $8-10 billions of food each year. Despite producing enough food to feed approximately 60 million people, two million Australians rely on food relief each year.
A large proportion of the food is rejected before hitting the supermarket shelves due to overproduction – there is more stock than what the supermarkets can store or display. Also strict quality standards imposed by the supermarket dictating the appearance of produce also means a lot doesn’t hit the shelves. Farmers have no choice but to adhere to these standards if they are to access the significant market that the supermarkets represent.
Notwithstanding the figures, government intervention in this area is significant lacking; leaving management of the problem either in the realm of charities or upon the supermarkets themselves. Currently there is no law in Australia requiring supermarkets to donate any unsold food, although Coles and Woolworths have joined with food rescue charities to work towards zero food waste targets. Thus far, these targets are yet to be reached.
Oz Harvest is a food rescue charity that has been operating since 2004. Like the TRJFP, Oz Harvest collects and redistributes food that would otherwise be wasted. Since their inception, Oz Harvest have delivered over 27 million meals to those in need.
How would you feel about the food up-cycling program in your home town?