Supermarkets have role to play in reducing food waste – Andrew Doyle, Fine Gael candidate for Wicklow

  • Scope to encourage outlets to sell ‘waste food’ at reduced prices, says FG General Election candidate
  • ‘If food waste was a country, it would be the third highest global emitter of greenhouse gases’

Changing the way we view out of date food products could drastically reduce the amount of food Wicklow householders bin every day, according to Fine Gael General Election candidate, Andrew Doyle. He also says that supermarkets need to change marketing practices to focus on selling better, not just selling more.

“Every year, one third of food bought in supermarkets in Wicklow is thrown in the bin, costing households about €1000. As a nation we are binning one million tonnes of food every year – this is a hefty enough chunk of the 89 million tonnes of food wasted across Europe annually and shameful when we consider that 15% of our population has experienced food poverty at some point. This rises to 35% for those on low incomes.”

“Credit needs to be given to Irish organisations such as FoodCloud, which arranges the redistribution of surplus food from supermarkets to charities in Ireland and the UK. FoodCloud links suppliers directly to breakfast clubs, homeless hostels or family support services willing to collect the free food via a smartphone app. But more responsibility needs to be laid on the giant supermarket chains which are generating huge profit margins.”

“Denmark has managed to reduce its waste total by 25% over the past five years, by changing the way they look at out of date produce. Most major supermarket chains now offer food that is close to or just beyond its ‘Best Before’ or ‘Sell By’ dates, at a reduced price. While Irish outlets, including those in Wicklow, do engage in this practice, the offering of products is not as extensive as it should be.

“A specialised Danish company has opened two shops in Copenhagen where all of its products are donated by producers, import-export companies and supermarkets and sold at more or less half their normal price. The UK also opened its first dedicated shop for ‘waste food’ near Leeds recently. This is good news for the consumer as they are buying proper food for reduced prices – and the profits are donated to charity.

“I see scope to grow this idea in Wicklow, particularly as we know that one in eight Irish citizens have experienced food poverty at some point.”

“Our challenge in Wicklow is to force, through improving our own habits, supermarkets to take on their share of social responsibility. Increasing the amount of end-of-life products for sale, donating these products to worthy charities, being transparent about where the excess food goes – all will go some distance towards changing how we view food and our consumption of it.”