Japan government to develop phone app that calculates cost of wasted food

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In a bid to reduce food waste, the government will develop a smartphone app that tells users how much money they wasted on food that they bought but did not eat.

The goal is to encourage consumers to avoid buying unnecessary food by helping them see the losses involved. The government aims to complete a trial version by the end of fiscal 2021.

If users enter the name of a food item that they’re thinking about discarding, the app gives them information such as the purchase price they wasted in buying it.

The app will also analyse the amount of food left in the refrigerator and let users know when it is time to buy certain things.

The Consumer Affairs Agency earmarked ¥80 million (S$1 million) for the app’s development and other costs in its fiscal 2021 budget request.

Convenient functions will include suggesting meals that can be made from ingredients the user has and analysing what kinds of food they buy too much of.

Food waste in Japan in 2017 amounted to 6.12 million tons, according to data compiled by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry.

This translates to 48 kilograms per person annually, with almost a bowl of rice worth of food thrown away every day.