Each year, manufacturers, retailers and food and beverage businesses lose out on millions of dollars due to one thing alone: food waste. A recent study in Canada, for example, found that a medium-sized manufacturing company saved $490,000 after taking steps to reduce this unnecessary waste. By reducing food waste with uniPoint quality management software, manufacturers can greatly increase their bottom line.
Interestingly, many manufacturers do not realize the cost involved in food waste. From the cost of raw materials to water to energy and labour, millions of dollars for even mid-sized manufacturing plants are being lost. This loss is much larger for bigger plants. Beyond the sheer economics involved in food waste, it is also leaving widespread devastation in its wake, from world hunger to rising CO2 levels. We may also be unable to sustain the population increase if we do not address food waste. By 2050, for example, we will have to increase food production by as much as 60 percent to be able to meet those needs.
We currently waste 1.3 billion tonnes of food each year – roughly 30 percent. The average North American consumer wastes 15 times more than the average African consumer. In 2007, 250 cubic km (half the size of Lake Erie) was wasted during the production of food that was never eaten. World hunger could be solved if we even reduced food waste by as little as 20%. 3.3. Gigatons of C02 is also needlessly emitted into the atmosphere each year (coming in shortly behind the US and China for the amount of CO2 emitted, making food waste the third highest emitter of CO2 in the world).
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Food waste occurs at all levels, with 18% of food waste occurring at the manufacturing stage alone. Various measures are being taken to eliminate its devastating impact, from Copenhagen opening the first-ever grocery store that sells expired food to laws in France that require supermarkets to donate food that is about to expire. Immediate action is required at all levels to reduce the human and environmental impact and for manufacturing plants to be able to improve their bottom line.