The crusade not to throw food is revived in the Canary Islands and reaches the mobile

Federico Quevedo (l) and Antonio Mateo (r) with the boxes they offer through the Too Good To Go app. / cover

Businesses look for ways to avoid wasting food. A new law will force them to put more effort into it

Mass consumption has perverse effects. One of them, the
food wasteit is intended to stop with a future law that will push individuals, producers, food and restaurant businesses to prevent food from ending up in the garbage.

In
Canary Islandssome have been battling this phenomenon for some time and others are turning to new technologies so as not to throw anything away.

"This issue has been in the works for a long time.
Among the sustainable development goals set in the European Union for 2030 is to eliminate food waste by 50%», explains the president of the
Spanish Federation of Food Banks (Fesbal), Pedro Llorca, who applauds the bill for the Prevention of Food Losses and Waste.

The future standard will oblige all agents in the chain -from the producer to industry and distribution- to have a
prevention plan to avoid surpluses. Those who lack this project may be sanctioned with fines of between 2,001 and 60,000 euros, and may reach 500,000 euros in the case of repeat offenders.

Consumption control

However, the main objective of this law is to make the population aware that food should not be thrown away. «
It is not possible that between 30% and 35% of what is produced is thrown away while there are people who cannot access this consumption. It affects the environment. Resources of all kinds are spent. Forests are cleared to create more land for cultivation and, however, this production does not reach the human being”, laments Llorca, president of the Las Palmas Food Bank.

The first to take part in the crusade against food waste, in addition to the food banks, have been the producers, pushed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. «Through the Spanish Agricultural Guarantee Fund (FEGA)
surpluses are bought and theoretically the waste is transformed into juices, vegetable preserves and jams», points out Llorca, who recalls that the leftovers bought at low cost by FEGA go to food banks.

Initiatives in the primary sector

In the Canary Islands, Llorca maintains, hardly any agricultural production is thrown away. «
The chopped Canarian banana is delivered to the Food Bankand even 20 million kilos of bananas have been sent to the peninsula," says Llorca about the generosity of the Association of Canary Islands Banana Producer Organizations (Asprocan).

With the zero tourism caused by the pandemic, the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, like FEGA, began to buy surpluses from agricultural producers that go to the Food Bank.

But there is still a need to extend this war to other fronts. "Unfortunately,
the ones who throw the most are the families. It is sad but, within what is waste, 50% is produced in homes, 30% in restaurants and between 20 and 25% in the food handling, development, distribution and production chain» , indicates Llorca.

For this reason, the future standard will emphasize several issues: that the
restaurants provide the possibility of taking away leftover food and that the
distribution shops offer discounted prices for products close to the best before date. "It must be clarified that an expired product is no longer consumed, but products with a best before date have a longer journey," explains Llorca.

An app to save food

Since November of last year, the establishments in the catering sector and the sale of fresh and processed food in the Canary Islands have had a new ally to prevent their surpluses from ending up in the rubbish bin. It's about the
mobile application Too Good To Gowhere food packages are offered at affordable prices in certain businesses and time slots.

Bakeries, hotels, cafeterias, pastry shops, greengrocers, supermarkets and some large food chains have joined this initiative.

In the Canary Islands, nearly 500 establishments provide their information through this digital tool. products fit for consumption but hard to sell.

Most of the businesses attached to Too Good To Go are concentrated in Gran Canaria and Tenerife, but there are also in La Gomera, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. "Today
44,000 packs have been distributed in the Canary Islands, the equivalent of about 44 tons of food», comments Carlos García, head of communication for the company in Spain, about the eight months of operation of the tool in the archipelago.

Profitable and economical products

The
chira greengrocerfrom the capital of Gran Canaria, is one of the businesses that is distributing two daily boxes of fruits and vegetables, ugly or chopped, but usable.
They weigh about ten kilos and cost 3.99 euros. «They are bought by people who are screwed up and to whom we did not have access. They are taking advantage of those boxes and they can feed their family. It's the most positive thing I see. I don't think we're saving the planet. We also do not profit. Perhaps if we sell many, we will be able to get 400 euros a month, but that means that we will have lost 1,000 or so euros", explains the owner of the business Antonio Mateo, who throughout the day fills the boxes with
pieces of fruit and vegetables that you know you are not going to sell and are not in a position to throw away.

A very ripe but ready-to-eat organic papaya, an avocado with a 'touch', nectarines, apricots with some bruises, ugly tomatoes and peppers, a piece of pumpkin, bananas with spots or loose... The greengrocer charges three euros and the app, one euro for mediation. “Only papaya costs that much,” admits Mateo.

In any case, the use of these surpluses is nothing new in this greengrocer. The families of the workers themselves consumed these products, which were also reserved for clients and acquaintances who were experiencing hardship. “There are fixed people. Those who come in Mercedes take her one day and don't come anymore.
The app is not to save the planet. It is about that what has been produced and has had costs, has a life and is used», clarifies the greengrocer.

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