One trillion dollars. That’s the estimated annual value of the food that’s wasted worldwide. In volume terms, this equates to a staggering 1.3 billion tonnes, or more than one-third of the total quantity produced. And it’s the industrialised nations that are most guilty of generating it.
With production costs driving up food prices across the board, the lost value is certain to climb to even higher levels over the next few years. But aside from the incredible and increasing economic implications, from a social and moral perspective, it’s extremely uncomfortable to see such grand-scale wastage when it’s believed that well over 800 million people continue to go hungry every day.
As if that isn’t enough, it’s recognised that food waste is also detrimental to the environment – putting further pressure on land and natural resources and resulting in additional greenhouse gas emissions.
Waste not, want not
Upon closer scrutiny, food waste predominantly comes from two main areas. A lot is lost at the consumer level, where we buy too much and what we don’t eat in time spoils and is thrown away. But even more food is lost at the production and distribution parts of the value chain – becoming unfit for human consumption in the farming/harvesting and cold chain (transportation and storage) stages.
It’s also known that seafood and meat rank among the largest contributors to avoidable food and drink waste.
With these understandings, there are a number of solutions available to businesses and consumers alike that can collectively put a significant hole in the mountain of food waste. At the forefront of these is a greater uptake of freezing technologies and frozen food.
It’s estimated that at a household level, frozen food results in around 40% less waste than non-frozen food. Similarly, in commercial kitchens, the long shelf-life also reduces the likelihood of throwing food away, with chefs simply taking only what they need from the freezer. The format also offers them consistency of pricing, quality and portion sizing.
Within the seafood category, Pittman Seafoods has long championed frozen as a proactive means to limit spoilage and to source wild and farmed species effectively all year round – regardless of whether they are in season or not. Not only that, we maintain that the frozen fish category can offer chefs and the buying public products that are just as fresh as those that are taken straight from the sea to the kitchen.
Because for most chefs and consumers such a short supply chain isn’t feasible – especially for those that are located some distance from the coast and a fishing harbour – frozen seafood is often in fact the freshest option. This is because fresh fish often spend some time on ice post-harvest before being made available for sale.
For frozen though, prompt processing, including the latest individual quick freezing (IQF) technologies, tends to ensure that frozen fish are offered in peak condition, with all of their just-caught flavour, texture and key nutrients locked in. Furthermore, at-source processing means a lot of products require very little preparation when they’re taken out of the freezer before being cooked.
And, as many businesses and consumers have found, buying frozen is also often cheaper than sourcing the equivalent fresh products. Quite simply, frozen seafood ticks so many of the boxes that are key to establishing and maintaining a sustainable food system.