Food Waste

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Photo by Emmet on

One in eight Canadian families struggle to put food on the table, and over 800,000 people visit a food bank each month. On the other hand, we waste $31 billion in food each year, or a third of what we produce.  Even among the areas tracked, food is wasted in many ways every day.

Among them

  • Individuals waste some $14.6 billion worth of food every year, about 47 per cent of the total. This mainly consists of food items that Canadians buy with the intention of using in their homes, but never do, so it ends up eventually in a landfill or composted.
  • Food manufacturing and processing is responsible for as much as one-fifth of the food wasted across the country.
  • Ten per cent of food waste happens on a farm, before even entering the broader system.
  • Retailers waste another 10 per cent
  • Restaurants and hotels waste a further nine per cent
  • The rest is wasted at processing facilities such as food terminals, or during transportation

But the biggest culprit in food waste is the average consumer. Individuals are responsible for nearly half of all food wasted. Just think of all the bananas we’ve let go brown, soggy lettuce we forget about in the crisper, or loaves of bread that went moldy in the cupboard.

Food waste also impacts the bottom line of farmers and the food industry. Farmers are responsible for the cost of growing and raising all of their crops and livestock, but only get paid for the amount that they sell. It cuts into the profits and sustainability of companies along every step of the food chain. These costs reverberate throughout the economy.

Most people don’t know that best before” dates are only a guide for food quality, not food safety, which can lead to unnecessary food waste. Other measures such as planning meals, having smaller and more frequent grocery shopping trips, and recipes on using up leftovers can go a long way towards reducing the amount of food rotting in the back of the fridge.

There is no reason that a country with so much food should have the issue of hunger as well. It is up to us to come up with solutions that both address food waste as well as increase the accessibility of fresh, nutritious food for all Canadians.

Take The Challenge

Smart Storage Smart Shopping Smart Prep


Tool Kit Implementation Guide for the Good Too Good to Waste Pilot GLOBAL FOOD LOSSES AND FOOD WASTE



  1. Help end food waste – David Suzuki Foundation
  2. National Zero Waste Council – Food
  3. Food Waste – Zero Waste Canada
  4. Report finds Canadians waste a lot of food


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