By Matt Donald, pig and poultry farmer, North Yorkshire
It was astonishing to hear that a recent report has found globally 900 million tonnes of food is wasted a year, of which 2018 9.5 million of that was in the UK.
Obviously, there is an economic cost to this waste, but also a huge environmental one. As an industry we are aiming to achieve net zero by 2040, and to do so food waste must be combatted. Although retailers, hospitality and households are to blame rather than farmers and it won’t appear directly on our carbon emissions, it is still concerning that the goods we work so hard to produce can be thrown in the bin with no use at all. Credit goes to the supermarkets selling wonky veg, but more must be done to limit waste.
A combination of the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit are pushing up costs of production on farm, currently shed building materials and the feeding, drinking, nest equipment inside, are inflating at an alarming rate, not to mention raw materials prices! Would it be so wrong to see some food price inflation now? This will not only cover increased cost on farm, but may also help the global food wastage disaster, which is worse in developed countries.
If household expenditure on food increased, it may make people think more about throwing away and meal planning in order to use up left overs in the fridge, or as I like to call them, ‘eat ups’. It should also give something back down the line to the farms who produce it. The poultry industry has seen fantastic growth and innovation, even in my short career so far, but in order for this to continue, fair prices must be achieved on the supermarket shelf in the first place.
This is no time for retailers to look to import cheaper meat of lower welfare standards, but a time to back British farming. Staying local has meant the public have loved being in the British countryside. That countryside only looks as fantastic as it does because of the generations before me, looking after it, alongside feeding a growing population.