Multinationals have no waste

Multinationals have no waste

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By Javier Guzmán

FAO itself points out in its report on food waste, that in 2007 the land cultivated to generate waste was 1.4 billion hectares, that is, 28% of arable land worldwide, in a historical moment where each There is more pressure on this resource for non-food purposes such as agrofuels or simple financial speculation.

In Spain we are not an exception, we annually throw away 2.9 million tons of food, and in contrast, according to Cáritas, in Spain 9 million people live in poverty (less than € 6,000 per year).

This situation has somehow sounded the alarms in the EU Parliament, which in 2012 approved a resolution urging states to initiate strategies to reduce 50% of waste by 2050, and this corresponds to the barrage of campaigns to the reduction of food waste, among them the one launched by the Ministry of Agriculture, and surprisingly those launched by the large agri-food and distribution corporations that are investing a large amount of resources.

Campaigns that a priori to everyone would seem fair, necessary and we would look favorably on the companies that promote them, and this objective seems to have been achieved.

But if we read the fine print, we will see that they are campaigns that share common objectives and elements, mainly deliberately hiding the responsibility of the current agri-food industry in the generation of never known quantities of food waste. Trying to make us believe that the current food waste is not a consequence of the agri-food model imposed by large corporations in recent years.

The main line of argument of all of them is to make it clear to us that the main culprit of obscene waste at a global level is the consumer. A consumer who buys more, who does not know how to take advantage of products, who does not read the expiration dates, and who is wasteful by nature. An irresponsible consumer who must be educated and made to bear all the guilt of the food chain, treating us like a mixture of compulsive eaters and solemn stupid.

Thus we find ourselves in the brochure of the Ministry of Agriculture itself, which in its first advice tells us: “Choose the products according to the needs of your home. Before planning the purchase, check the status of the food you have at home, especially fresh products or products with an expiration date. Plan the daily or weekly menus taking into account the number of people who are going to eat. "

But, are we really the consumers the main culprits of this disaster? Big companies and governments have nothing to do with it?

Consumers surely have a lot to do with it, but if we change the focus of direction and focus on the industry and its strategies, we will begin to see the contours of an immensely greater responsibility.

Responsibility in terms of quantity, the European Parliament insists that "the agents of the food chain" are the first involved: the industry contributes 39% of the waste, while restaurants, caterers and supermarkets are responsible for 14% and 5% of the total, much of which companies, governments and food lobbies have called "inevitable."

Responsibility in the type of final consumption since most of the waste at home is due to the way food is packaged, discounts, 2X1, and other strategies of large supermarket chains that in recent years have replaced the proximity trade and determine our consumption. If you do not believe it, you only have to see that in our country approximately 80% of food purchases today are made through supermarkets, hypermarkets and discount stores and, going from 95,000 stores in 1998 to 25,000 in 2004 Therefore, the consumption funnel closes more under a false appearance of diversity.

The second line of argument is that companies must and are committed to improving the efficiency of the entire process, improving cold chains etc ..., but where they already warn that there is little margin, since they are currently doing everything possible. On the other hand, they can add one more link to the chain ... and they have.

Thus, another of the common elements of these campaigns is to integrate the food banks into the agri-food chain. In this way they kill two birds with one stone, improve the image of the company and save costs in waste treatment.

A strategy that serves to “chronify” a type of assistance and temporary emergency intervention such as food banks to turn it into one more and “normalized element of the chain”, thus forgetting that this type of intervention generates social stigmatization and on many occasions the food supply is not adequate, with the absence of fresh food, with processed foods, poor in micronutrients and disproportionate in energy, saturated fats and refined carbohydrates, favoring cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc….

However, these campaigns tiptoe through a central element for the EU itself or the FAO, to reduce food waste, such as the commitment to local agriculture and proximity sales circuits.

The commitment to this other model of production and consumption avoids waste in all phases of the chain, in the production phase mainly because it is not subject to the canons of agribusiness and where diversity is a value compared to "homogenization" imposed on distributors and wholesalers.

In the distribution phase because it does not need huge cold and transport chains to reach the consumer.

Finally, because direct selling improves the matching of supply and demand, by consuming exactly what is needed.

In addition, the EU itself recognizes that this type of model has other great benefits, such as the generation of decent prices for producers and the generation of direct and indirect employment, revitalization of the territories and revaluation of the rural world, an increase in general. in the nutritional quality of food, etc.

For this reason, in other European countries, they have been betting on this model for years, including France, where it has developed various strategies for the promotion of local production and transformation, legislative initiatives such as the adaptation of hygienic-sanitary legislation to the characteristics of small production and direct initiatives such as that the public purchase of food from schools, hospitals, universities, etc. comes from local agriculture and livestock, and turning the development of local agriculture into one of the central pillars of its strategy against waste.

In our country none of these policies take place, being very illuminating if we compare the data of direct sales carried out by farmers, reaching 20% ​​in France and just 3% in Spain.

As these campaigns say, in a matter of food waste we are all responsible and we all have something to do, but we also have to clearly say that we are not all equally responsible, and that you are precisely campaigns far from demanding responsibility from the great culprits of this situation , they exempt and hide them, when not, they simply help them turn food waste into the latest corporate social marketing trending topic.


Video: Plastic Waste Crisis How We Can Collaborate to Solve It (May 2022).