Plenty we can do to cut food wastage

Plenty we can do to cut food wastage
Many players in the food industry prefer dumping food to donating it due to concerns over liability and branding, says Madam Nichol Ng.

Singapore's rising food wastage weighs heavily on my mind ("More food going to waste"; last Wednesday).

I am the co-founder of Food Bank Singapore, which channels excess food from supply chain stakeholders - such as manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers and even domestic consumers - to the agencies that service the needy and hungry.

While the demand for food has always been increasing, our donations have been relatively ad hoc, with many players in the industry preferring to dump food instead of donating it due to concerns over liability and branding issues.

With Singapore importing more than 90 per cent of its food, I am saddened to hear of such practices.

Not only are we throwing away precious food, but we are also wasting the packaging (for example, tins, paper and cartons) and the "fuel" used to produce and ship the food to us.

Why is it that people have to spend hard-earned donations to buy food when there is so much in the food chain that we can salvage? We are not even talking about goods close to expiry but food that needs to be discarded because it was not produced to specifications, or because specific promotions did not take off.

Being a First World country, Singapore needs to take a look at what other countries are doing with regard to this issue.

From supermarkets donating damaged or excess food, to food rescue programmes at the food and beverage level, there is plenty we can do, albeit with some government support.

Is there a possibility of establishing a good Samaritan law where donors are free of liability when they donate food products? Or perhaps some tax incentive when companies make food donations, just like how a cash donation works?

Both the cost of food and the amount of wastage will continue to rise if we do not start taking action, as both issues are closely linked.

Nichol Ng (Madam)


Food Bank Singapore

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