Category Archives: Waste

What Should I be Publishing?


Here is your opportunity to tell me what you would like me to be publishing here! Please email me here – or simply make a comment at the end of the post. Everyone who makes an input can supply me with information, which will be posted on – what about using this as an advert?

You will have noticed I’ve been posting a bit more of non food processing bits and a bit slower in the last while – but remember you can access the information in many ways.

1) Remember though you can look at particular types of posts by going down to the bottom left and clicking a category, or even by entering an expanded URL.

eg food processing –
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waste –
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5) You can also watch other of my channels like Facebook & twitter although I need more feedback on whether these are at all useful.



Fruit & Vegetable Drying – I

I intend to do a series of posts on fruit and vegetable drying given that this is one of the simplest, safest and cheapest processing technologies. However, as I am always promoting that we need to start at the market side. We also need to define the sector we are working in.

But first a photo to get us thinking away from the shriveled dark brown piece of “banana” that we are used to see.

Flickr Photo Download_ Dried Fruit.jpg

photo by ccarlstead
(Creative Commons License)


This attractive and tasty looking of fruit is on sale in bulk, in a market in Istanbul. While I have seen many markets selling bags of cereals in Sub Saharan African few seem to sell dried fruit which is essentially just as well preserved.

Also of interest in this photo is that the fruit is not simply dried but glazed, dusted and prepared in different ways.

These large quantities of dried fruit could represent fruit that was in excess of the demand for fresh fruit that could have been wasted if not dried and was possibly purchased at a low price. Otherwise it could have been fruit that was purposefully grown to be dried to provide food for use during the winter or even as a supplier to a dried fruit producer.

So there’s lots to think about! which we will be doing over the next while in this series of posts.


Crisps Carbon Footprint

Going back a bit to the environmental issues in food processing. Walker crisps in the UK was the first company to do detail work on one of its products.


Walkers - calculating our emissions.jpg

from: Walkers Crisps
(click image for full story online)


The illustration indicates that the carbon footprint is calculated up to the point where the packet of crisps is on the supermarket shelf.

The carbon footprint determined in 2007 was 85 g C02. Walkers have achieved a 7% reduction in this to 80 g by:

• Switching to 100% British potatoes to lower food miles
• Training drivers to drive in the most fuel efficient way
• Running our delivery trucks on biodiesel containing 5% used
cooking oil
• Reducing gas and electricity consumption by:
– Improving production line efficiencies
– Introducing new technology – such as low energy lighting
– Educating front-line employees to be more energy-aware
• Reducing the weight of packaging

Why is this of interest to you a food processor who’s clients couldn’t care less? Carbon footprint is almost directly linked to energy which you pay for either directly or indirectly – so reducing your footprint saves cost!

Interesting that even in a process with lots of energy for frying, processing is a small input while farming and packaging represent about two thirds of the footprint.


The Return of the “Curvy Cucumber and Knobbly Carrot” to EU Supermarkets.

Consumers in Europe are likely to increasingly see fruit and vegetables with less than perfect appearance (the so called “wonky” produce) on their supermarket shelves from July 2009 as the EU tries to reduce its bureaucracy


Attractive and wholesome fruit and vegetables like these feed the world but have, over the last few decades, lost their place in the “First World’s“ supermarkets to perfectly shaped and coloured specimens. Through the supermarket pushing “quality” and bureaucrats busying themselves, visual standards gained a status that has had negative impacts for the consumer, the farmer and the environment. The European Union is well known for the banana standard which, after a year of study, stated that a banana should be “5.5 inches long and 1.1 inches wide, and could not be abnormally bent”. This allowed the EU to advantage bananas from the Caribbean (mainly its former colonies) that met the standard to the disadvantage of Latin American producers who were backed by USA based multinationals. Rulings by the World Trade Organisation and the threats of the US lead to a truce with the tariffs being removed progressively. But now regulations on 26 fruits and vegetables have been repealed while member states can allow the sale of 10 other products which do not meet the standards, so long as appropriate labeling is used.

Continue reading

African Food Processors – Local Competitive Advantage?

I have often heard the sensible sounding goal of “adding value to local resources” as a base for enterprise development. However, some of my own experiences with small enterprise and the recent story below from Uganda seem to contradict this.


New Vision Online _ Get serious with agro-processing-2.jpg

from: New Vision
(click image for full story online)


The first product in the New Vision story is about a Ugandan company that imports mangos concentrate from India. This seems weird as Uganda is a large mango grower and many countries in West Africa (see Mali’s Mangos) battle to use excesses. But the story makes it clear that the mangos available in Uganda do not have the same flavour as the imported pulp. Juice processors also need to produce their products the year round, so are reliant on storage which makes concentration almost a necessity.

I had a similar experience at two small scale community projects in Limpopo Province (South Africa). They were set up to produce fruit purees, but were unable to produce the quality demanded by the market as they were relying on whatever fruit was available.

The other materials which the story indicates as being in short supply compared to the food processors’s demand are tomatoes, passion fruits, pineapples, wheat and chillies, millet, banana.

The writer of the report proposes that a government supported strategy focussing on

    • making inputs to the industry accessible and affordable
    • sourcing and developing of markets for the industry
    • developing interconnected sub industries

I can only say all this appears very unlikely to me – I must be getting the wrong information! Uganda can’t be short of bananas! can it? The article talks about potentially viable businesses where markets are in place. Surely government doesn’t have to do everything for them – if so I suspect they are actually non viable business and doesn’t deserve government to pump money in.

Somebody help me out. What is the real situation are there opportunities going to waste? Email me!

A New Fad in Diets?

We had the low carbohydrate, the low protein and the low calorie diet and the pineapple and drinking man’s diet and many others. Now we have the low Carbon (Footprint) Diet which considers the well being of the world rather than the individual.


Low carbon diet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.jpg

from: Wikipedia
(click image for full story online)


Wikipedia defines it as

making choices about eating that reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe) as a response to estimates that the U.S. food system is responsible for at least 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases

and identifies the focus areas as

    • selecting low carbon foods
    • reducing animal protein intake
    • evaluating transport energy
    • understanding processing, packaging and loss

While a number of issues like reducing loss, selecting non hot house food, eating local and reducing cooking energy inputs seem to be obvious things to do – there is a lot of debate and an the overall impact needs to always be understood.

There is a calculator that allows one to compare different dishes and meals.


Eat Low Carbon Diet Calculator - Bon Appétit Management Company.jpg

from: Eat Low Carbon
(click image for full story online)



Freegans are anti-consumerist individuals employ alternative living strategies based on “limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources.

Amongst other they salvage discarded but unspoiled food that has passed its best by date, as a political statement not because they are poor or homeless.

This seems a very weird and almost humourous concept, but this site used it to link to the major food wastage problem in the UK.


Bringing an end to the food waste shame.jpg

from: FoodNavigator
(click image for full story online)


Some quotable extracts from this webpage:

    • “It is estimated that one third of all waste going to landfill comes from the food sector, and one quarter of this could have been consumed.”
    • “It showed that UK consumers are throwing away a total of £10bn worth of food each year. It said that the widespread concern about soaring food prices “sits awkwardly” alongside proof that consumers dispose of 6.7m tonnes of food waste each year, 4.1m tonnes of which could have been eaten. This equates to £420 per household every year.”
    • “Redistribution schemes such as FareShare can help reduce the 1.6m tonnes coming from retailers. This UK charity offers tailored solutions to the food industry by taking companies’ surplus and waste and distributing the edible food through a community network of over 500 organisations that help disadvantaged people.
      Last year, FareShare helped save 2,000 tonnes of edible food from landfill, providing meals for 3.3m people. This in turn meant 13,000 tonnes less carbon dioxide was emitted into the environment.”

Some of our previous posts linked to food waste:

WASTE – Food, Energy, Water & Time
Mali’s Mangos
One Million Tubs of Yoghurt
Biofuels From Waste

Mali’s Mangos

This image and text identifies the problem of the mango resource in Mali. It is one of a series of 10 pictures assembled by the BBC describing various aspects of the mango and its contribution to livelihoods in Mali.

BBC NEWS | In pictures_ Mali_s mangos, Feast or famine-1.jpg

from: BBC News
(click image to look at the series)


The text reads:

The simplicity of the mango business is a problem. Mali is one of West Africa’s biggest producers, with around 1.2m sq km under cultivation – 50% of which is exported.

But in years when the rains are poor the mangos are scarce, and in years of plenty the fruit rots on the trees or is eaten by animals.

“Of course there is waste, and the price falls when we have too many mangos. We need to get better organised, and look further than Sibi for markets,” says local official Dioma Doumbia.

Highlighting a different aspect of the food waste issue that this blog will be discussing more with time. Click here to see the posts to date

One Million Tubs of Yoghurt

This story on the BBC website is a more popular version of the information I presented on WRAP’s The Food We Waste Report.. This is part of the public relations effort in Britain to address food waste.

BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | In the culture club.jpg

from: BBC News
(click image for full story online)


So one million tubs or bottles a day of yoghurt are thrown away unopened! Apparently this because more wealthy people aspire to the health and image benefits of youghurt while shopping, but don’t get to eat all they buy in the relatively short shelf life of the lightly preserved products they prefer.

Biofuels From Waste

With the increasing pressures on the production of biofuels from foods (ethanol from maize and biodiesel from edible oil) there is an increasing call for the production of biofuels from waste.

The Energy Challenge - Gassing Up With Garbage - Series -

from: New York Times
(click image for full story online)


This above article in the New York Times notes that there are almost thirty plants in the implementation phase. However, it notes that none have succeeded and that most are looking for significant subsidies and grant funding to become viable, even with the vastly increased oil price.

It quotes Nobel Physics Lauriate, Steven Chu, as saying

We desperately need it, and I personally think it’s not there yet

You have to look at starts with a grain of salt, especially starts where they say, ‘It’s around the corner, and by the way, can you pay half the bill?’