The European Community of Consumer Co-operatives (Euro Coop) and ANCC/Coop Italy marked World Food Day on 16 October with an awareness-raising event on food waste.
One third of food produced in the EU is wasted every year – and the time of overabundance and waste is “definitely over”, warned Massimo Bongiovanni, vice president of ANCC/Coop Italy.
He added: “The fight against food waste is today at the top of priorities. For the last 30 years we have been taking actions to raise the awareness among our members that a change is needed and that we need to stop consuming more than our planet can produce. To continue this work, a multi-pronged approach is needed and Coop is ready to do its part”.
The event presented the results of Milan BEXpo, a study carried out by the European Commission and Coop Italy at a ‘supermarket of the future’ exhibit at Milan Expo.
Visitors were presented with information on food in different ways, including interactive screens next to each product. Participants were also asked about their understanding and use of best before dates and about their choice when confronted with imperfect, strangely shaped fruits and vegetables.
Only 47% of consumers correctly identified the meaning of the best before date. And while it makes them less likely to throw away a product before that date is reached, they are more likely to throw it out after the date has passed.
Consumers’ willingness to buy imperfectly shaped foods increased as the price fell. But even without a price reduction, if a persuasive message was given on the label (such as ‘authenticity’ or ‘anti-food waste’), more shoppers would choose imperfect fruit/vegetables.
“Because of their peculiar entrepreneurial form and their position in the food supply chain, consumer co-operatives are best placed to take up the food waste challenge,” said Duncan Bowdler, president of Euro Coop.
“Their close relation with members and local communities, as well as their strict collaboration with producers, make them key actors of the food supply chain. We are working hard to reduce waste and embed the circular economy thinking in all our operations; to this end we will need policy makers to create a conducive environment for us to keep our work going on.”
Despina Spanou, director for consumers at Directorate General Justice and Consumers (EU Commission) said the research showed the importance of raising awareness.
“Through an effective co-operation with all partners of the food supply chain and other interested stakeholders, a societal change is at hand,” he added.
- Click here for the full study: Milan BExpo 2015: A behavioural study on food choices and eating habits