New scheme to cut food waste can be improved

An initiative to sell fruits and vegetables that are close to their expiry dates at a lower price to help low-income families is commendable (Online shopping scheme to cut food waste on trial; April 5).

It aims to tackle one contributor of food waste - unsold food nearing expiry.

Statistics show that Singapore households throw away an alarming $200 million worth of food and beverage waste annually. Food waste also accounts for about 10 per cent of the total waste generated in Singapore.

However, this new trial will take time to gain acceptance and will also require more outreach, to let lower-income families know that such a scheme is available.

In its current form, buyers make their purchases online - via the website Lasmin. They are then required to go the sellers to collect the food. Consumers may not take well to this new initiative as it requires more effort than just buying food at the nearest store.

It would be good if the scheme is expanded to more shops and supermarkets, where a space is set aside for such food items. This would make it much more convenient for shoppers.

More items such as canned food should also be included in the scheme.

However, the idea of buying almost expiring products at a lower cost may deter consumers as they might associate the low cost to lower quality and have concerns about food safety.

More public education on "best-before" and expiry dates will help more accept and consume such foods. This can be done through posters and videos playing in stores or via television advertisements.

As a nation, we need to work together to contain our food waste in order to move towards achieving our vision of a zero-waste nation. The best way to start is by ensuring that we only buy and consume what is needed.

Andrea Chiow (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2018, with the headline 'New scheme to cut food waste can be improved'. Print Edition | Subscribe