Hugh's War on Waste

edited 4 March 2016 at 11:32AM in Old Style MoneySaving
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  • Former_MSE_AndreaFormer_MSE_Andrea Former MSE
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    Hi everyone

    Along with Hugh's Guest Comment we asked him to reply to some of the points you've raised on this thread.

    Here you go...
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  • Former_MSE_AndreaFormer_MSE_Andrea Former MSE
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    katkin wrote: »
    Maybe the demand for vegetables would increase if the price dropped. Price is often used as an explanation by people who don't eat enough veg / fruit.

    Cheaper priced veg from outlets like Aldi, Lidl, farmers markets etc aren't the most perfectly shaped, but there's a demand for them.

    I'm sure there will always be consumers who want easy prepared and perfect prepacked veggies, but there's plenty more out there on tight budgets keen to eat healthier and learn how to prepare and cook them. As this forum testifies.

    There needs to be more education and incentives to cook and eat a variety of fruit / veg regardless of its shape and looks. It's well known that UK people don't eat enough of them. A drop in price and increase in skills and recipe ideas would certainly help. Never mind reduce appalling waste.

    Hugh's response:

    I don’t think consumer demand for vegetables is really the issue here. Produce isn’t going to waste because we don’t want to buy it. The waste of fresh veg that I’m talking about is occurring before the food even reaches the supermarkets: tonnes of good food rejected because it fails to meet ridiculously high ‘cosmetic standards’.

    A lot of seasonal, home-grown vegetables – especially roots, alliums and greens – are pretty inexpensive already but if supermarkets relaxed their cosmetic standards, the cost of veg could be even less (because of course the current waste is factored into the price).
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  • Former_MSE_AndreaFormer_MSE_Andrea Former MSE
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    I could be mistaken about the situation as I'm not a farmer, and it would be interesting to get the perspective of someone from the farming community, but I don't think it's as simple as an oversupply issue, based on supply and demand.

    I would understand it as:

    Farmer has a contract with supermarket to supply (say) 10000 tonnes of parsnips

    Super market standards mean that the parsnip has a 30% fail rate, based on aesthetic qualities

    So the farmer has to grow 14300 tonnes in order to guarantee supply. The farmer has paid for the seeds, the fertiliser and all the labour costs for growing the extra parsnips, but won't get paid for them. Unfortunately, such is the buying power in the market, the farmer cannot set the correct price for the parsnips, based on their expected waste.

    If the aesthetic criteria was relaxed, to say a fail rate of 5% or 10%, the farmer will have to grow fewer parsnips in order to fulfil their orders and so will save money in the long run, and there would be less waste.

    Hugh's response:

    Absolutely! Cosmetic standards are creating a huge quantity of waste – but I believe those standards represent a level of perfection way above what most consumers expect.
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  • Former_MSE_AndreaFormer_MSE_Andrea Former MSE
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    Ken68 wrote: »
    If the supermarkets can't make a profit from veg. they will put up prices on other stuff, so no change there.
    And the surplus parsnips, whatever, isn't wasted, it goes for animal feed.

    Hugh's response:

    Sadly, that last point isn’t accurate. Some of the surplus veg does go for animal feed, particularly in the winter when there’s not much pasture about. But a great deal of it is actually destroyed.
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  • edited 2 December 2015 at 1:03PM
    Former_MSE_AndreaFormer_MSE_Andrea Former MSE
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    edited 2 December 2015 at 1:03PM
    jack_pott wrote: »
    Many of the comments on this thread have been about farmers ploughing mis-shapes back into the ground, but the average family is throwing away £700 worth of food a year, and I think that HFW will have an uphill slog trying to change that.

    Hugh's response:

    You’re quite right that the UK’s waste problem is both a commercial and a domestic issue. At wastenotuk.com, I’m asking people to put pressure on supermarkets to reduce their waste footprint – but to also to look at their own habits and reduce what they waste at home. We all have to pull our weight on this one. The good news is, wasting less is not difficult – and it is exceptionally satisfying.
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  • Former_MSE_AndreaFormer_MSE_Andrea Former MSE
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    jack_pott wrote: »
    Well, that was interesting, wasn't it. The guy said that during years with a bad harvest all the mis-shapes went into the supply chain and were consumed without anyone noticing. So the problem is one of oversupply then, and not mis-shapes at all. The fact that the waste happens to come from the ugly portion of the harvest rather than the pretty is neither here nor there, the reason that some farmers are working for nothing is because they're producing more food than the population can consume.

    If 25% of the harvest is going to waste, the idea that you can solve the problem by making smoothies and soups is ridiculous, the population is obese enough as it is, without consuming a third more food than they already do.

    Hugh's response:

    Over-supply is built into the system by the supermarkets, not the farmers. They can afford to order more than they will sell (which means their shelves always look temptingly full). Some product never even gets as far as the shops, because the retailer may change forecasts or cancel orders at the last minute, meaning perfectly good food never makes it off the farm.

    The ideas I’ve been exploring on using up fruit and veg at home are aimed at tackling waste on a domestic level – not the same as the supermarket waste at all.
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  • Rainy-DaysRainy-Days Forumite
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    Andrea - can you ask Hugh what the outcome was for the farmers who handed over that huge dossier of paperwork showing Morrisons' curtailing their order with little to no notice?

    I remember in the programme that they said they needed to be given the evidence to be able to bring prosecutions on it - so it would be good to find out if that was the case.

    I have not shopped in Morrisons' since by the way. I have been getting allot of my fresh stuff from the local market. Really, really disgusted by Morrisons' attitude and their run-around practices in the programme. This company is a big employer, but it also has a legal and moral duty to their suppliers and quite honestly I formed the opinion that Morrions' were found seriously wanting. I don't doubt that they are all at it, but I am becoming ever more conspicuous about where my pounds are spent!
    Cat, Dogs and the Horses are our fag and beer money :D :beer:
  • During the last week I noticed that one of the spam adverts that comes up these days was advertising for mystery shoppers for Morrisons and offering people the chance to buy £100 of goods there. That surprised me - as the last I knew is that the rate of pay for mystery shoppers is absolutely pathetic these days (courtesy of so many people competing to do it).

    So to see they were specifically advertising for people to mystery shop and actually paying a reasonable rate of pay for once got me thinking.....and I wonder if its connected to all this?
  • cbrown372cbrown372 Forumite
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    During the last week I noticed that one of the spam adverts that comes up these days was advertising for mystery shoppers for Morrisons and offering people the chance to buy £100 of goods there. That surprised me - as the last I knew is that the rate of pay for mystery shoppers is absolutely pathetic these days (courtesy of so many people competing to do it).

    So to see they were specifically advertising for people to mystery shop and actually paying a reasonable rate of pay for once got me thinking.....and I wonder if its connected to all this?

    You say yourself its a spam advert so why on earth would you think that anyone would get paid £100 or even £1?
    Its not that we have more patience as we grow older, its just that we're too tired to care about all the pointless drama ;)
  • Ken68Ken68 Forumite
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    Thank you for the feedback Hugh and Andrea.
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