Food waste is a globally recognised problem. Growers, producers, restaurants, cafes and individual consumers all contribute to food waste and it is costing all of us economically and environmentally. Fortunately, there are some very simple solutions.
Globally this comes to an estimated cost of $680 billion in developed countries alone. Climate change experts agree that greenhouse gas emissions from food waste produce the third largest carbon footprint on the planet (exceeded only by the USA and China).
A 2018 Waste MINZ study shows that for “ evert $1 spent on reducing food waste $14 worth of savings can be made”. The study states New Zealand cafes and restaurants throw away 24,372 tonnes of food each year. Of this, 7% was food spoilage, 33% was plate waste and a massive 60% was preparation waste. Studies also show that 61% of food waste is avoidable.
Some Easy solutions:
However according to Vacpack, a wholly NZ owned food production and packaging specialist reducing food waste is simple and achievable for both large manufactures and small households.
“There are easily introduced solutions we are happy to advise on. These will vary depending on what part of the food chain you are in. Food production, packaging, distribution and end user/consumer covers all – and of course we all fall into the consumer segment.”
Some strategies are as simple as cafes discounting food at the end of the day or donating leftovers to charities, while restaurants can offer doggy bags. However, the most efficient strategy, for both commercial operators and individuals, is to better monitor portion size. This means buying and preparing food in quantities that are practical to pack and store into smaller portions. Done properly, a far better safe shelf life is easily achievable, in both commercial operations and foods for the home.
Commercially, that is what the Vacpack Cook-Chill system was designed for. Food products such as soups, sauces, custards, curries, stews, purees, pie fillings and mashed vegetables can be centrally prepared and portioned. Using this system, food can be portioned into bags, dishes, or bottles – then correctly chilled, for an extended and safe shelf life. It can then be heated and used as required, either onsite, or across multiple sites. This greatly reduces food waste while lowering production and storage costs.
“Food is refrigerated – Not frozen. This means the food maintains its cellular structure and therefore its nutritional value, taste, consistency, texture, colour, and aromas without the need for additives, while achieving a minimum shelf life of 28 days.”
Using this system many foods can be frozen for a year or more, without the normal freezer burn or ice crystallisation associated with frozen food products. This is solely down to the quality of initial handling and the quality of the storage container or bag. Freezer damage is due to ice crystals in the packed air. If there is no air in the pack, then freezer burn will not be a problem for far longer periods of time.
“From small entry to mass production kitchens Vacpack is the only specialist company in NZ to provide the Cook Chill process from start to finish. We are specialists in the principles and process. We don’t just sell the equipment and consumables, we consult and assist with the entire process from HACCP plans to recipe development and staffing requirements.”
From 13-15 June Vacpack will be showcasing their systems at the Fine Foods Show in Auckland giving food manufacturers an opportunity to find out what systems would suit them best:
“For Commercial food manufacturers the key is to tailor handling, processing, packing and storage systems to best suit their specific needs. The good news is, that some of these systems require no capital outlay while delivering immediate reductions in food waste.”
Individuals can also do their part, says Vacpack: “You don’t have to be a commercial food producer to reduce food waste. With a domestic vacuum packer, individuals can replicate these savings at home”.
Together we can make a difference
“New Zealand industry generates more than 103,000 tonnes of food waste per year, and it is estimated that 60% of food going to landfill is edible… wasting food also means squandering the resources used to produce and transport that food, including water, land, energy, labour, and capital.”–kiwiharvest.org.nzhttps://www.finefoodnz.co.nz/whats-on/auckland-2021/partners/vacpack/
These figures should be of serious concern to everyone. We should all be mindful of the economic and environmental impact. Fortunately, we can all play our part in reducing food waste and greenhouse gas emissions – all while saving money.