Montreal, September 29, 2023 – On the occasion of the International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste Reduction, the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) would like to highlight all the work that is being done in Quebec to fight against food loss and waste – and in particular the colossal work done by food retailers and all players in the food chain.
In Quebec, there are nearly a hundred initiatives in the food sector (production, processing, distribution, and retail) aimed at limiting losses, such as the Supermarket Recovery Program (SRP), which allows food aid organizations to safely recover products before they reach their expiry date. However, the past year has reminded us of the importance of handling, transportation and packaging issues in food preservation. There are more and more disruptive events, especially related to climate change (power outages, road closures, supply chain links under pressure), which present additional challenges in the fight against waste.
In its vast study on the subject, published in 2022, Recyc-Québec estimated that 1.2 million tonnes of edible food in Quebec are lost or wasted and should have been eaten or donated. Numerous are the initiatives, but much remains to be done to limit losses.
Establishment of an action group on food preservation and the fight against waste
It is in this context that RCC announces the establishment of an action group specifically dedicated to the issue of food preservation and the fight against waste. The primary objective will be to align efforts and make the clearest possible statements about the current and future challenges in food preservation. In addition, since the federal government, the Government of Quebec, as well as several municipalities, are each working on different initiatives that affect plastics, some of which will have a direct impact on food handling and preservation, packaging issues will also be discussed.
Although food waste in retail and distribution accounts for only 13% of all losses, many initiatives are already in place to end the problem. Representing the largest banners in the food industry, RCC is already actively participating in the many initiatives of the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ) in this regard.
“Our members’ collaboration on this topic is not new. The committee’s objective is to go even further to stimulate reflection and facilitate exchanges, both in Quebec and in Canada. The committee will allow external stakeholders to participate in the reflection, which will promote greater efficiency within the industry,” said Michel Rochette, President of RCC in Quebec.
Awareness-raising efforts are needed
The fight against waste remains a collective responsibility, since it is mainly in our homes that the scourge strikes, with an average of 140kg of food lost per year, per household (28% of all losses). In fact, a Leger poll published in May 2022 revealed that 51% of Quebecers said they simply threw away food because they forgot it in the fridge, pantry or on the counter. The expiration date, often misunderstood, is the second major reason why participants eliminate food, cited by 40%.
All these issues will be on the agenda of this working group, which is beginning its work, with the input of other organizations that will add their expertise in the coming weeks.
About the Retail Council of Canada
Retail is Canada’s largest private-sector employer with over 2 million Canadians working in our industry. The sector annually generates over $85 billion in wages and employee benefits. Core retail sales (excluding vehicles and gasoline) were over $462B in 2022. Retail Council of Canada (RCC) members represent more than two thirds of core retail sales through small, medium, and large retail businesses across the country. This includes 54,000 storefronts including department, grocery, specialty, discount, independent retailers, online merchants and quick service restaurants. Our grocery members alone represent more than 95 per cent of the market in Canada.
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