Wasted food: how much is it worth?



Not long ago I was shown the results of a research carried out by Last Minute Market – a Bologna University’s spin-off firm – quantifying the value of still-edible food that every year goes to waste on our planet. The data that has emerged is quite shocking: if we consider the whole world, the value of food that in a year, despite being still fit for consumption, ends up being thrown away equals to more than Switzerland’s GDP, around $750 billions. What about Italy? Unfortunately, as far as wasted food is concerned, we are significantly contributing to the problem.

The published data reveal a slight improvement: in 2012, wasted food in Italy amounted to $8.7 billions while in 2013 it was worth $8.1 billions, which is definitely a progress, however, we are still talking about enormous amounts. With a simple operation we’ve calculated that it equals to roughly €130 being thrown away every year by each resident, including babies and children. It doesn’t make sense: is there any solution to prevent such a waste?

Innovation-lovers have been calling for intelligent packaging that changes colour when the product’s expiration date is approaching. Others are focusing on labels, which could be featuring more than one date – not just the expiration one, which is ultimately designed for the end user: a simple “sell by” date for retailers could help curbing this inexcusable waste. Yet looking beyond product innovations and labelling laws, we discover that the worst enemy of this global wastage should always be one, and just one. Our common sense: we should use it more often.