Brockville, Ont. ,
Canadians have thrown away millions of dollars worth of food in the past six months, according to a new study from Dalhousie University.
There is even a word to describe the trend: ‘chelfation’. This is inspired by the term ‘shrinking’, where food products shrink in quantity but the price remains the same.
Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab in Dalhousie, said, “Shelflation is a phenomenon when the shelf-life of products is compromised by supply chain problems, and the shelf life is reduced for consumers when they purchase a retail product. ” university.
“When consumers bring products home, they find that their fruits and vegetables don’t last as long, they can actually throw away past the expiration date,” he said. “And of course if you waste food ahead of time, it adds to your cost of living and it adds more to your food bill.”
The study says that 63 percent of Canadians have prematurely discarded food in the past six months. The study found that 45 percent of Canadians had thrown away produce, 31 percent had thrown away dairy, 27 percent of bakery products and 17 percent of meat.
The total cost of all that waste: between $305 and $545 million dollars.
“Over the years we suspected that something was not quite right and that the quality and freshness of retail products had been compromised as a result of supply chain problems,” Charlebois said. “We just wanted to get to the bottom of it and ask Canadians what they were seeing.”
“We’ve never measured chelation before. We intend to do more, but 63 percent strikes us as a very high percentage,” he said.
Pandemic made ‘shelflation’ worse
In the study, Charlebois notes that chelation can happen at any time. This could be due to weather, labor disputes, labor shortages, mechanical failures, boundary-related challenges, or anything that could increase storage or transportation times.
“Supply chains are generally under a lot of stress. We believe the pandemic has made things worse, less predictable, and more difficult to manage.”
“It’s not always the consumer’s fault. Many products sometimes aren’t good or go bad before they reach people’s homes,” he said.
Outside a Metro grocery store in downtown Brockville, customers agree they recently threw away food.
Penny Miller said, “I hate to admit it, but we have.” “Not completely, maybe once every two weeks.
“We’ve never actually thrown away meat, but milk I’ve thrown away. Shelf life sometimes says it’s not that,” he said.
Shopkeeper Marjorie McCullough said the same thing.
“Fruits and vegetables, of course. Apples that are already softening by the time you get them, beans that have already darkened,” she said.
Last summer his family started buying local produce to reduce food waste
“(We) bought a subscription to a local farm and a little more expensive but at least it was fresh, it was great and well worth it.”
Marjorie McCullough holds onto the fresh produce she buys. (Nate VanderMeer/CTV News Ottawa)
Grocery stores donate to the food bank
At the Brockville and Area Food Bank, executive director Hallie Jack says local grocery stores donate perishable items weekly.
“If it’s coming there for shelf life, or for whatever reason they can’t sell it, they’ll give it to us and we’re able to move it very quickly,” she said.
But the team has learned that they can combat food spoilage by buying goods locally from suppliers.
“This product came to us on Tuesday, so as you can see it’s still pretty fresh, and we’re in the middle of the week,” Jack said, adding that local vendors bring food straight to them, which they sell door-to-door. can be taken out. doing bad.
Charlebois says buying local items is one way to combat ‘shelflation’.
“The distribution channels are not as complicated nor as long, so you will reduce the risk of exposure to the shelf,” he said.
He also suggested that people go to the grocery store more often. If you go two or three times a week and shop for a few days at a time, you waste less.
Gardening and growing your own produce can also help reduce food waste. Canada’s gardening rate has increased over the past two years, Charlebois said.
“Seventeen percent of Canadians actually have a garden that’s really, really big,” he said. “We are expecting that rate increase as a result of food inflation. That pressure is real.”
McCullough said it’s hard to reach the grocery store several times a week just to pick up fresh produce.
“If you’re working full-time like me, you don’t want to go to the store every day. So you go once and by the time you cook it, it’s bad three days later. So it’s frustrating.”
Offered gardening options, McCullough laughed.
“You must have time! I’m going to retire first and then I’ll have a garden!” She laughed.