Are we all chucking out too much food? Roughly one-third of all food produced in the world is wasted each year. That’s equivalent to over 550 billion euros worth of food thrown out in the developed world alone. Meanwhile, acute hunger affects over 100 million people worldwide (with almost 20 million people in Europe and Central Asia suffering from severe food insecurity). How is possible it that food poverty and food waste can co-exist at the same time?

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Carlos pointing out that “France was the first country in the world to forbid food waste in supermarkets, by donating their near-expired products to charity.” Do you think other European countries should follow France’s example?

To get a response, we attended the 2019 Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA) in Brussels, an event dedicated to issues related to food, agriculture, and the environment. On the day, we spoke to Ertharin Cousin, former Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (2012-2017). What would she say to Carlos?

For another perspective, we also put the same comment to Mette Lykke, CEO of Too Good to Go, an app that helps tackle food waste by connecting users with unsold food from participating shops and restaurants. At the moment, her app relies on the voluntary involvement of food sellers. Did she support the idea of countries introducing legislation to force greater participation?

Should supermarkets be forced to donate unsold food? Should more countries follow France’s lead on this issue? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) BigStock – Fahroni


23 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Jude

    Yes….it is done in France already.

  2. avatar
    Mirko

    I don’t like concept of forcing people, even for the good, but it must me incentivated for sure

  3. avatar
    Любомир

    No. People and their businesses should be forced by the government as little as possible. Donations and charity should be encouraged, not enforced. If you enforce them, then they are no longer donations and charity, but an extortion tax.

    • avatar
      kallistratos

      I agree. Supermarket business should be only forced to be more efficient,.. i.e. to analyze the market and not to put in the shelves products that are to remain unsold

  4. avatar
    Olivier

    No… Freedom and stop to regulate everything…. Are you liberal or fascist

    • avatar
      Uli

      freedom of what..and in terms of economy its certainly not liberal vs facism

    • avatar
      Giuseppe

      if the supermarkets are obliged to donate unsold food they can save money concerning waste money and they can spare time (and make more money). Your comment doesn’t help the discussion

    • avatar
      Любомир

      Unsold food usually is food that has gone bad and needs to be thrown away. Otherwise supermarkets will keep it up for sale until they sell it. The whole idea makes zero sense, not to mention that forcing people to “donate” is highly unethical.

  5. avatar
    Alfredo

    If you do that, more and more people will postpone buying, till they give the food away for free. Already some supermarkets do that, but they give it to welfare associations and the needed go to them to get food.

  6. avatar
    Bódis

    They should donate to charity organizations.

  7. avatar
    Maia Alexandrova

    They can be asked to open a new department – for expired unsold food. Items offered there should be free and kept for 1-3 days before being thrown away, provided that this is not dangerous for human health. For example, fruits and vegetables after their “best before” date can still be safely consumed, but raw minced meat after its “use by” date will still need to be thrown away. So not every unsold product can be offered back to people, but for those that can, there should be some regulation to make supermarkets protect the environment by reducing food waste.

  8. avatar
    catherine benning

    Should supermarkets be forced to donate unsold food?

    And if they force the sellers of out of date food to donate it to the poor, the poor will be open to sue the sellers for food poisoning, should they ingest the leavings. If that happens, the sellers will be able to sue governments for forcing them into donating.

    And who will pay the bill for all this legislation? Why the tax payer of course. As they will also be expected to pay the compensation to the sick eaters.

  9. avatar
    Stefania

    The poor must not exist. Poverty must be abolished. I don’t think it’s right to reserve a bad food treatment to those who have All people have to eat healthy foods. When you go to a shop especially of fish or fruit and vegetables the shopkeeper tends to lower the price, giving away, to give away the products that if they stay go to They already do it without law that forces them, it’s common sense to dettarlo. The shopkeeper has affectionate clientele, customers eat healthy foods and are all happy

  10. avatar
    Daniel

    It is not possible as they got to pay VAT on it before donating it… and it is cheaper to just let ie expire and pay for it destruction … Ask your politicians to change that

  11. avatar
    Sento

    Yes! Do not allow the supermarkets to throw the food to garbage! Help the poor!

  12. avatar
    Στέργιος

    Not only they should be forced but be convicted in case food is thrown to rubbish.

  13. avatar
    Nikolaos

    Granting authority to the state to force any business to do whatever it thinks with its products, is a grant of power that can easily be abused. This goes against the principles of Democracy and free markets.
    State interversion in the name of “good” can only result in failed utopian dreams

  14. avatar
    Róbert

    Private property is guaranteed by the government. And it should always remain like that, no exceptions. But a supermarket that donates unsold food, could be rewarded somehow. We should use positive motivation, because negative motivation in that case is absolutely unacceptable.

  15. avatar
    Mari e Giu

    For us, this is a good idea but it should be applicated in a correctly way. Getting an abuse of power is simple; Government should not force the supermarket, like ‘If you don’t do this you will punish, with a fine”, for example but they should be motivated by positive reasons like ‘If you do this you will be helped in moments of economic crisis’, for example.

  16. avatar
    Leonardo ed Emanuele

    Yes, but after careful checks of food. WE think that Italy should use the food waste solution implemented by France.

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