How much food is wasted in Mexico per year?
The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), an intergovernmental organization aimed at supporting cooperation among the three North American trade partners in environmental matters, presented the Practical Guide for Quantifying Food Loss and Waste.
This report reveals that just over 167 million tons of food is wasted in North America.
First, the United States with a waste of 126 million tons of food. The second place is occupied by Mexico with 28 million tons of food waste. In third place is Canada with 13 million tons of food.
According to the report, wasted food represents lost money for businesses, households and governments, while aggravating food insecurity. When food is wasted, all water, fertilizer and farmland emissions associated with those foods are also lost.
"The loss and waste of food have enormous environmental, social and contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, "says César Chávez, Executive Director of the CEC.
"If we can help a company measure food waste, we can help them understand the true cost of these wastes and the financial and environmental benefits of prevention," Chávez added.
In the specific case of Mexico, 18% of the loss occurs in the food processing and manufacturing sector. Mexico suffers from problems similar to those that afflict other North American countries in this sector: cuts, overproduction, inadequate infrastructure or machinery, inefficient system design, damage during the packaging phase, imprecise forecasts, safety problems of the food, deficiencies of the cooling chain and inconsistency in the quality of the processes.
In Mexico, the efficient distribution and intermediation of food is crucial to reduce the loss of food. 93% of the retail sale is made in small local neighborhood stores specialized by product category: spice shops, butchers, poultry shops and bakeries.
The infrastructure of the cold chain is limited and inadequate in many parts of the country, which is one of the greatest opportunities to prevent waste. Combined with inadequate storage and transportation infrastructure, this phenomenon leads to high levels of loss during distribution.
Another inefficiency in the food supply chain is the centralization of wholesalers and food brokers. This means that the goods travel to the centers of the cities for their intermediation and their subsequent distribution. An efficient decentralization would result in less waste.
Mexico has the highest percentage of local and independent businesses in the foodservice industry of all the countries of North America. These small businesses represent almost all food service establishments in the country and more than two-thirds of sales in the sector.
These restaurants tend to have much lower levels of waste than larger restaurants or those found in Canada or the United States. This is largely due to frequent customers, constant menus and the appropriate size of the portions that allow a highly accurate forecast.
These facilities may have less cold storage infrastructure than their larger counterparts, but regular shopping and sales cycles prevent this from generating significant amounts of loss.
A group of experts from the CEC to measure food waste in North America sponsored a study to quantify the loss and waste of food in the restaurant industry.
An example of a successful case in Mexico:
In the branch of Zapopan, Jalisco, of the restaurant chain Toks. The study revealed that the chain has opportunities to generate savings of 130,000 pesos in that branch during the first year, which would reduce the generation of greenhouse gases by the equivalent of 17.4 tons.
The study estimates that only the Zapopan branch could donate 3.8 tons of saved food, which is equivalent to around 42,710 meals. The group has 207 establishments throughout the Mexican Republic, so the possibilities of savings on a national scale could amount to several million pesos.
What would happen if other restaurant chains added to this dynamic?
The savings potential sounds inspiring. The CEC is calling on food producers, food processors, retailers, restaurant operators, food service providers, trade associations, and interested parties in North America to begin using this guide. The effort, needless to say, has no waste.