Nearly €164 million worth of food discarded every year in Estonia

Groceries
Groceries Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

A survey commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment reveals that around 84,000 tons of food worth around €164 million is discarded in Estonia every year.

Food waste has grown in the entire food supply chain, from agriculture to households. In addition to direct waste of resources and negative environmental impact, wasting food is also notably expensive.

"The food we throw away has required a lot of resources, water, energy, land and man-hours to produce. If we throw away food, we are essentially wasting all the resources it has taken to produce, not just in agriculture but throughout the supply chain," said Evelin Piirsalu, senior expert for the Stockholm Environmental Institute.

The most food is wasted in homes, while a fourth of food waste is created in the commercial network.

"We cannot forecast how much goods the consumer wants to take home very accurately today. While home order systems have become very accurate, millions are invested in them and they take into account everything from the weather to previous consumer behavior and anything else happening in the given region, they have not reached pinpoint accuracy and probably cannot," said Katrin Bats, head of PR for the Rimi chain of supermarkets.

Rimi has set itself the goal of cutting its food losses in half by 2025. The company is relying on technological solutions and cooperation with the Food Bank.

Estonian supermarkets donate on average 12 percent of food products they do not sell to the Food Bank. The latter collects the groceries before distributing them to less fortunate families, working with local government social workers and other charities.

"Estonia has 30,000 people living in absolute poverty and 275,000 in relative poverty. The need is great as the coronavirus has cost many people their job or taken a bite out of people's income," executive manager for the Food Bank, Piet Boerefijn, said.

He said that the organization recirculated nearly 2 million kilograms of salvaged food last year and has 15,000 weekly customers.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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