亞洲新聞台(新加坡)CNA INSIDER-Why Are We Throwing Away Perfectly Edible Food? | Food, Wasted 1/3

[00:00 - 00:16] Thank you so much.  So, who doesn't love chicken, right?  Look at this spread.  We got thighs, we got wings,  we have drumsticks, and  chicken breast. Aiyo, the one. 

[00:16 - 00:32] Well, apparently, the reality is that  many of us wouldn't actually be choosing this cut.  Chicken thigh and chicken drumsticks,  it's super popular, but other parts like  chicken breast, that's less popular in Asia.  One thing that we forget,  they come as a whole. You have to queue a whole chicken to get the chicken thigh 

[00:32 - 00:48] and chicken drumstick.  And all the unpopular parts  that don't get bought up?  They join a massive graveyard  of perfectly good, usable chicken parts.  It's around 7 to 15 tonnes.  Wait, every day? Yeah. 

[00:48 - 01:04] That's about the weight of a bus!  And this is just for chickens from one supplier.  Now, we thought that was shocking,  but get this,  globally, we actually waste  1.3 billion tonnes of food a year.  That's about one third of all the food we grow for human consumption. 

[01:04 - 01:20] A lot of it is perfectly edible food  that shouldn't be wasted in the first place.  And we're not just talking about  the leftovers on our dinner plates.  In industrialised parts of Asia,  cities like Hong Kong, Mumbai, Jakarta, and Singapore, 

[01:20 - 01:36] it has a lot to do with our choices.  We're not just talking about  the leftovers on our dinner plates.  It has a lot to do with our choices,  like whether to buy food that's nearing expiry.  So, those that cannot make it,  go to the top shelf here. We used to throw like 100 tubs 

[01:36 - 01:52] of about 50 kilos of yoghurt.  But they're still good for consumption.  More than 50% of our food waste here  actually happens at the  consumer and retail and distribution stage.  That is a staggering amount of food  that could be perfectly edible, but just isn't perfect. 

[01:52 - 02:20] but just isn't perfect.  First up,  why is so much food  that's perfectly safe to eat  being thrown away?  And what can we do to fix this? Normally, this one, we will take 

[02:20 - 02:36] the range from between 38 to 41 cm.  Every day, these suppliers  get tons of fresh produce that they've got  to test for size, temperature  and sweetness.  If the sizes are uneven, the buyers over the other side will definitely 

[02:36 - 02:52] not accept.  Surely, it's a little extreme?  Surely, it's a little extreme?  Consumers actually want the best  when they pay.  That trickles down to customers  being more stringent in their requirements. 

[02:52 - 03:08] She's talking about these,  rows and rows of pristine produce  on supermarket shelves that fit  a certain beauty standard.  To meet the expectations of retailers and consumers, 

[03:08 - 03:24] farmers like Mr Ho sometimes  have to go to great lengths  to ensure every fruit is as  perfect as possible. To get perfectly coloured mandarin oranges, 

[03:24 - 03:56] Mr Ho used to stick paper  on each affected fruit, like this. 

[04:16 - 04:36] in Singapore. So, here's the thing. 

[04:36 - 04:52] Most of this produce and meat is safe to eat.  They're rejected because of  cosmetic flaws.  For many suppliers, it's easier  to throw them out than to try  to find buyers for them.  But there's another reason why suppliers are throwing out crates of 

[04:52 - 05:08] perfectly edible food into the trash.  It's called buffering.  To illustrate,  let's go back to our  fowl problem.  Singapore imports live chickens from farms around the region, 

[05:08 - 05:24] and each day, they're freshly slotted here  in numbers that are determined  by projected demand.  The thing is, buyers, like supermarkets, don't want to risk 

[05:24 - 05:40] running out of chicken.  So, they contractually bind their suppliers  to bring in an additional 10-20%  of buffer stock,  just in case.  But what happens if that buffer isn't  needed after all? The retailer isn't obligated to take this 

[05:40 - 05:56] out of 10,000 or 20,000 chickens.  They try to sell it.  If they can't, they store it.  If they store it for too long,  they throw it.  Because the next day, it's going to come in at another 100,000.  They can't clear it away as well. So, it just keeps rolling on and on and on. 

[05:56 - 06:12] Storage space is expensive as well.  When the fresh chicken suppliers approached us  to tell us that they had around 7 to 15 tonnes  of wasted chickens  to clear already,  I was just like, how much money are you guys throwing away every single day? 

[06:12 - 06:34] What really shocked me was  when I head down to their slaughterhouses  and I saw the whole process of the slaughtering,  then it hit me, it's not really just  7 to 15 tonnes of food being wasted,  but 7 to 15 tonnes of lives  that are being thrown away. This one's 28. 

[06:34 - 06:50] Today's like 23rd.  Today is it 23rd?  Oh, 25th.  We only have  three days left, so we can't really sell this.  For suppliers  like Artusco, who deal with processed foods, it's these best-by 

[06:50 - 07:06] and expiry date labels  that can pose a problem in moving their goods.  Take the organic yogurts,  for example.  For the online grocers, whatever they buy has to have a minimum shelf life 

[07:06 - 07:22] of like 8 days.  Which means, when there's a delay of just a few  days in the shipment of yogurt,  retailers won't accept the stock,  even when the yogurt is still perfectly safe  for consumption.  We used to throw away a lot. We used to throw like 

[07:22 - 07:38] 100 pups of about 50 kilos of  yogurt whenever we had  issues with  flight delays or damaged goods.  You can't really blame the  supermarkets. They've tried to  arrange items that are closer to the expiration date at the front of the 

[07:38 - 07:54] display in order to clear them first.  But many of us  will simply reach for the items  at the back, with the longer shelf life,  just to play it safe.  And so all these guys  get left behind. Whenever there's waste, I think, 

[07:54 - 08:10] what way can I save them? Would anyone  want them if I were to give them away?  Hi Mel!  Hello!  Good morning! Thank you!  Thank you!  At half price, we can actually afford 

[08:10 - 08:26] more than the price itself. They're trying to  use up food that would otherwise  go to waste.  So as it turns out, there are consumers  out there, like Melissa, who aren't  so fussed about food that is nearing  their expiry dates, or that come with little dents and dings. 

[08:26 - 08:42] In fact, there are at least  20,000 of them in Singapore  going by this one app.  If let's say they have some defects,  they will put it there, like this  red cheddar slices. Since 2016, 

[08:42 - 08:58] TreatShare has been a platform for  suppliers to sell their less than  perfect goods directly to consumers.  So where we come in  is a secondary channel for them  to start selling items that  they could not have found other channels to sell. Suppliers put 

[08:58 - 09:14] up, consumers see whatever  there is, and then they go about  ordering as you would on an e-commerce  platform.  In Hong Kong,  a group of young people have gone even  further to prove a point. Hello, welcome to 

[09:14 - 09:30] Green Price in Central Hong Kong.  They've opened actual physical stores  that sell nothing but near-expiry  goods.  It's just the beginning.  Their goal?  To try to change Hong Kongers' mindsets with a bit of personal 

[09:30 - 09:46] attention. Most of them  do not really know there are  a difference between a best-before  date and the use-by date  and that contributes  to the fact that they are not  that willing to purchase items which is short-dated. 

[09:46 - 10:02] Staff will explain to customers that  the best-before date is only a guide  and that even food products  three months past the date are still  safe to consume.  The message seems to have worked.  Four years since their first store, the social enterprise now has four 

[10:02 - 10:18] stores that are helping nearly 700  suppliers sell off their near-  expiry goods to customers  who are mainly younger, eco-conscious  and white-collar workers. But what about all that other 

[10:18 - 10:40] food that's been labelled ugly?  Not the right size,  defective, or simply  surplus? The food that  nobody wants? Well, for  one thing, that's not quite true. Remember orange farmer 

[10:40 - 10:58] Mr Ho? He sells his  ugly oranges to this social  enterprise to turn them into  jams for sale. The jams are doing so well. 

[10:58 - 11:16] They've won awards and are used by  several F&B businesses. So? 

[11:16 - 11:32] Over in Singapore,  social enterprise TreeDocs has been seeking out  food businesses that are more than willing  to buy all that unwanted,  surplus chicken, meat and food. And at a real bargain price too. 

[11:44 - 12:08] They're now supplying over 1,300  businesses, and more recently,  they've been reaching out directly to consumers  too, those who don't mind a little  imperfection in their food. Rachel and her neighbours buy groceries 

[12:08 - 12:24] in bulk from TreeDocs every week.  They're one of 82 group-buy  communities that are shopping with the platform. TreeDocs is also 

[12:24 - 12:46] finding ways to channel the food to those  who need it most, by collaborating  with the Food Bank and DBS  to donate supplies to underprivileged families. 

[13:02 - 13:24] For instance, new TreeDocs  customers will ask questions like But all these complaints, 

[13:24 - 13:42] they can actually be a good thing. TreeDocs is also getting more 

[13:42 - 14:00] eyeballs on its products, by  working with supermarkets like  Howmart. In the two years  since TreeDocs started, it's saved  about 2,300 tonnes of food.  But it's really just a drop in the ocean. Slowly but surely, 

[14:00 - 14:16] folks are being won over.  Most people feel whatever they do  will not have an adequate  impact. But I think people  need to rise above these misgivings  that they have. Once they become a part of the solution, albeit 

[14:16 - 14:32] a very small part of the solution,  they can begin to influence others  and take others along with them.  Consumers would say,  well, supermarkets offer only  these kind of choices, and then the supermarkets  say, well, consumers are only after these particular selections. 

[14:32 - 14:48] I think both have a  responsibility to do.  Alright, to summarise, here's  what you can do to help reduce the amount  of perfectly edible food that gets  thrown away.  For example, if you're planning to eat your 

[14:48 - 15:04] yogurt today, it's okay  if it's expiring tomorrow.  Don't judge your vegetables,  fruits, meats,  seafood or cereals by their  cover. Check that they're still good to eat.  Remove the slightly dented parts if you must, or even repurpose 

[15:04 - 15:20] it into something else.  Buy and use a whole chicken  or fish if you can, and not  just the parts. Lastly,  support players like GreenPrice  or TreeDots that help to reduce  food waste. It could go a long way in changing the industry for the 

[15:20 - 15:36] better.  In the next two episodes,  we'll be taking you across Asia.  Get this  soda, mate!  We ask the questions, why does so much  food get lost in our supply chain even before making it to 

[15:36 - 16:12] our dinner tables? They stack  all the fruits, the bottom of it,  how damaged they might be.  And will bringing back farming  into our cities actually make us  appreciate our food better?  We want people to experience how hard it is growing their own food.