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Food industry criticised over waste
Supermarket supply chains are responsible for much of the "global scandal" of food waste, campaigners have warned as they kicked off a series of free meal events highlighting the issue.
Around a third of the food produced around the world is wasted and while consumers are often labelled the worst offenders in rich countries, investigations by UK-based campaigners reveal that the food industry is the main source of the problem.
Campaign group Feeding the 5000's founder Tristram Stuart said blaming consumers was "a distortion of the facts" and that most official statistics leave out waste that is hidden from the public eye across the food supply chain.
For example, "ugly" fruit and vegetables rejected on farms or in packhouses because they do not meet specific cosmetic requirements can amount to 20-30% of the harvest, and in sometimes as much as half of what has been produced.
Investigations by Feeding the 5000 found Kenyan farmers supplying UK and European supermarkets are being forced to throw away as much as two-fifths of what they grow, in a country where more than a million people do not have enough to eat.
A global campaign to highlight the issue is being launched by Feeding the 5,000 by cooking up a meal for thousands of people in Amsterdam from fresh produce that would otherwise be wasted.
It will be followed by a series of free meals for 5000 members of the public in cities including Lisbon, Sydney and New York to launch national campaigns on food waste with grass-roots groups, charities, governments and international bodies.
Mr Stuart said: "The message peddled by supermarkets and their representatives, and indeed some international institutions, that in rich countries most food waste comes from consumers, is a distortion of the facts.
"The reality is that the supply chain is the main source of preventable food waste.
"A third of the world's food is wasted and most of this happens courtesy of food companies. Retailers can use their power to help farmers, manufacturers and consumers to reduce waste from farm to fork."