In The Know

Food waste is costing Canada big: University of Calgary School of Public Policy

Agriculture is big business in Canada. As of 2018, Canada’s agriculture and agri-food industry generated $143 billion to the economy and provided one in eight jobs nationally. Canada is one of the largest exporters of agricultural products in the world. 

This drive to produce more food more efficiently, however, has led to rising levels of food loss and waste. This briefing paper from the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy notes that in Canada, over half of our annual food supply is discarded. This is equivalent to 35.5 million tonnes, and of that total at least 32 percent is identified as “avoidable” waste. 

This waste is costing our country in more ways than one. As author Kerri L. Holland notes: 

“The most recent data suggest that the annual value of [food loss and waste] in Canada’s entire food system is an estimated $49.5 billion and when input costs (water, power, labour, etc.) are factored in, researchers project that a more accurate value is over $100 billion/year.”

She notes also that the average Canadian household discards between $1,100 and $3,500 in food each year.

Additionally, this has big environmental implications: 

“A 2019 report…estimated that food loss and waste throughout the food system was responsible for 56.5 Mt of eCO2, which accounted for nearly eight per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions that year. This statistic is similar to the global average of GHG linked to food waste in landfills (eight to 10 percent).”

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