SA wastes a third of its agri output – WWF

A total of 10 million tons of food go to waste in South Africa every year, according to WWF South Africa’s new Food Loss and Waste: Facts and Futures report.

SA wastes a third of its agri output – WWF
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This amounts to one-third of the 31 million tons of food produced annually in the country.

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Fruits, vegetables and grains account for 70% of the wastage and loss. Approximately 50% of this occurs on the farm and at the post-harvest stage. Processing and packaging account for a further 25% of losses, distribution and retail are responsible for 20%, and consumers waste 5%.

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In a bid to build awareness of the problem and encourage consumers to save food and thereby help to transform the food system, WWF SA offered a number of suggestions in the report:

  • Become curious about your food and where it came from. Get to understand the remarkable journey it took to arrive at your table; this will help you value your food more.
  • Understand date labels. ‘Sell by’ is information for the grocer, not the customer. Food past its sell-by date is generally still good to eat for several more days. When in doubt, smell the food.

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  • Make wiser decisions when shopping for food by doing better meal planning and checking fridge stock beforehand.
  • Avoid multi-pack promotions (e.g. buy one, get one free) if they are not really necessary. Buy only what you will consume.
  • Prepare the right quantity of food (not too much) and don’t serve more than can be eaten.
  • Freeze leftover or surplus food for later use.
  • Store fresh produce where it is easy to see, on eye-level shelves in the fridge or on countertops where it is likely to be seen and eaten.
  • Reuse packaging that can be used for an alternative purpose, and recycle and compost wherever possible.
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Siyanda Sishuba has a degree in broadcast journalism. She graduated in 2010 at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern Cape. She is passionate about the environment and agriculture. Siyanda grew up in Whittlesea and has seen how climate change and invasive species are affecting farmers in her community. She’s worked at the Weekend Post, a local newspaper in Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern Cape. Thereafter she landed herself a job at Debt Management Consultants in East London, writing articles for company’s newsletter. She then moved to Johannesburg to work for the Department of Environmental Affairs Biosecurity Advocacy Unit