In our summer series on food waste, we’ll look at the problem from the soil to the plate.
Food Waste Alliance Working Across Industries
Since the Great Recession companies that handle food, all along the supply chain, have been taking a harder look at their food waste numbers in an effort to boost profits, or in some cases survive.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association, working in conjunction with food manufacturing, food retailing and restaurants formed the Food Waste Alliance to help companies take a harder look at what they’re throwing out and make reductions. Meghan Stasz, Director of Sustainability for GMA.
Food Banks Working with Farmers
Donating food to food banks for distribution to the needy has changed in the last few years, as Liz Reasoner, Executive Director of the Food Bank of the Albemarle explains:
“We have recognized that early on in food banking a lot of the food would come from the retail market. As the retailers have become more cost conscious they are trying to eek out as much profit as they can. As we have seen that industry contract with donations, we have looked for other opportunities.
Waste Elimination through Donation to the Needy
In Southern Farm Network’s continuing series on food waste, William Liggitt, Director of Operations and Food Safety with Pamlico Shores Produce in Swan Quarter, NC, outlines the short history of Pamlico Shores as a grower, packer and shipper of red, yellow and purple table stock potatoes:
“Originally Dawson Pugh and Hunter Gibbs were involved in sweet potatoes and often is a full time farmer. Nine years ago they started and four years ago we had a shed near our farm that was for sale and we started to process our own potatoes. We are trying to eliminate as much as we can or use it to feeding people.”
Ham Produce Looks to Reduce Food Waste Further
Earlier this week we heard from Stacy Ham Thomas, VP of Ham Produce on their efforts to reduce waste in their sweet potato operation. In our continuing series on food waste, Thomas tells us that using sweet potato culls from the packing operation and making a puree, while certainly a waste reducer, wasn’t a complete solution. Today, Thomas tells us their next step:
“Even with all that being done, there was still a lot of potatoes being left in the field, about a 15-20% loss on ones that are just not usable due to size and quality. We are partnering with a dehydration plant that can utilize everything from the crop that would typically be left in the field. It will not go into pet food.”
Thomas mentioned that the dehydrated sweet potato product will go to pet food manufactures, but what about the pureed product? Thomas says there’s a whole host of uses:
“The puree can be sold to beer companies, tortilla chips, baby food and many others that can use it.”
Food Waste Reductions in the Field
Ham Produce Company is generally considered in North Carolina agriculture circles to be an innovator in waste reduction, Stacy Ham Thomas, VP of Ham Produce gives a brief history of the operation:
“Ham Farms is a grower-packer-shipper, and we are a feed producer also. We start our process in the green house with plants we purchase from NC State. We started packing sweet potatoes in 1992 and learned quickly there is a lot of waste in that process.”
Thomas explains what prompted Ham Produce to look for innovative ways in waste management and elimination:
“If you look at your food costs in the grocery store, things are selling for about the same price as they did ten years ago. But obviously the cost of growing is going up every year. So we were looking for ways stabilize our market and diversify and have a sustainable business model.”
Innovations in Food Waste Reduction
A report from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health finds most Americans think food waste is a problem, and 75% think they waste less food than the national average, but the real numbers suggest otherwise. In our summer series on food waste, we’ll look at the problem from the soil to the plate.
Nick Augostini, Assistant Marketing Director of Horticulture, Field Crops and Seafood with North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Marketing Division, says reducing waste at the farm level is becoming more of a focus.