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Monitoring and Measuring Food Loss and Waste in Canada: A Snapshot

Written and researched by Chloe Alexander, PhD candidate, Geography, Environment and Geomatics, University of Guelph

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Food loss and waste is an important issue that is gaining more attention in Canada from governments at all levels in Canada and food businesses because of its significant environmental and economic impacts.

To effectively reduce food loss and waste at a national, provincial and territorial, municipal, agri-food sector, industry, and individual business level, it is crucial to know how much uneaten food is being lost or wasted in these different contexts. These numbers are not only important for establishing a baseline to know how much food is being wasted where, but also to motivate food waste reduction efforts and to evaluate reductions against this baseline. Before we can even get to this stage , it is important to understand who is – or isn’t – monitoring and measuring food loss and waste throughout the agri-food system and which measurement practices are being used by different agri-food actors.

Key findings:

  • Monitoring and measurement are not commonplace throughout the agri-food system or levels of government in Canada.

  • There is no uniform definition of food loss and waste that is used in Canada.

  • Measurement practices differ significantly, even within government jurisdictions, industries, or individual businesses.

Key strategies:

  • Set mandatory food loss and waste reduction targets.

  • Establish national guidelines to help businesses and government (at various levels) define food loss and waste within the scope of their operations.

  • Create a system where businesses and government can report their food loss and waste data.

This report, informed by interviews with key stakeholders, provides insight into the current state of food loss and waste monitoring and measurement practices in Canada as well as the barriers and opportunities for improving the uptake of these practices and the development of more accurate, granular data systems. This report concludes with suggested strategies for how government and industry can move forward on this important issue.

Read the report (PDF)
Read the report (PDF)