• IMAGE: Getty
    IMAGE: Getty

The Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC) is partnering with the Australian Institute of Packaging to tackle the problem of food loss.

The federal government’s latest food waste assessment has estimated that every Australian throws out an average of 300 kilograms of food every year; however, the Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC) believes that this estimate is much too low, with Mark Mitchell, AFCCC chairman, saying food losses in transport must also be taken into account.

“This is a disturbing statistic, and good enough reason to support the first National Food Waste Strategy, which aims to halve food loss and waste in Australia by 2030 in line with EU policy,” said Mitchell. “Nobody really has the accurate figures on food waste because of poor data, so this first estimate can only be regarded as a best guess.”

According to Mitchell, data for the food cold chain, which involves significant transport and storage to move perishable foods such as soft fruit, dairy, and leafy vegetables, is “almost non-existent”,

“Anecdotal evidence has revealed some horror stories about food loss, like a southern state herb grower who consistently loses ninety per cent of his produce in transport, and a strawberry industry that has up to seventeen links between grower and the store,” he said.

Mitchell argues that, though technology exists to combat food loss, many of the links in the cold chain are broken.

“Cold chain food travels through many different hands before it gets to the plate, but nobody wants to take responsibility for the huge trailer loads of food that are rejected at their destination through temperature abuse or poor handling processes.

“Our reason for pessimism about the latest food waste numbers is that data on transport losses is so poor that the national estimates of food waste exclude transport. Data from the sector is limited and uncertain,” he said.

He has vowed to throw the weight of the AFCCC behind data capture programs that will allow development of good food waste policy.

"AFCCC, which is working with kindred groups such as FIAL and the Australian Institute of Packaging, to measure cold chain food loss for the first time, has already identified a number of critical control points in the chain that add up to food waste on a massive scale," he said.

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