Monday, 10 August 2009

Shop local

Another posting on the Christian Ecology Link bulletin board, worth repeating, I thought - this time from Pete Redwood on the subject of supermarkets passing on unsold meat to be burnt:

Sainsbury's have also recently signed a contract with DPM at Doncaster to supply them with all their waste food to fuel their energy generation plant. This includes all fresh food waste. DPM specialises in producing material for pet food and already takes waste from retail butchers, cafes and restaurants within a 100-mile
radius of Doncaster. The new plant is an extension of that business, covers a number of supermarkets and feeds its electricity into the National Grid.

The question was posed, "Why so much waste?". The supermarket model creates waste by definition. In order to maintain an "attractive" display it is necessary to have more stock than can be realistically sold. As soon as the display starts to look empty sales drop.

The sell-by date system also creates a huge amount of waste. It is not a legal requirement in itself, but once shown on a package the retailer must comply with it. It has become standard practice by default rather than by legislation. Most food is still edible well beyond its sell-by date.

It is also worth remembering that most national supermarket chains do not sell truly fresh food. Due to the distribution process it is at least three days old, and usually more, before it even gets on the shelf! Which is why they insist on so many synthetic preservatives in their products.

Until about ten years ago most fresh products were supplied to each store direct by the producers/manufacturers. Each supermarket company insisted that it was supplied on a sale or return basis, and then deliberately over-ordered by one-third. Except for bread, and possibly milk in some cases, this system has now changed and all products are now supplied to a central distribution depot. Manufacturers and producers still cover the cost of waste by the grossly unfair discount structure operated by the main supermarkets.

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