Singapore produces less than 10 per cent of its food needs and imports some two million tonnes of fresh produce every year. Yet Singaporeans throw away as much as 393,000 tonnes of food annually. Food waste costs the country an estimated $2.54 billion worth of food annually. Beyond the dollar value, there is also the environmental costs involved in the cultivating, harvesting and transport of such foods which end up in the bin. So it is welcome news that the Government is considering Good Samaritan laws, which offer legal protection against criminal or civil liabilities for people who offer assistance to others. Such laws will give businesses added incentive to donate, rather than waste, food items. Some already donate to food charities such as the Food Bank, and businesses say these laws will give them peace of mind.
It is not just prepared food which goes to waste. Along the food supply chain, some 393,000 tonnes of vegetables, fruit, fish, seafood and eggs are spoilt and damaged during the post-harvest stage, storage, packaging and transportation. These processes need to be overhauled to reduce waste. Supermarkets already encourage the buying of blemished produce, which may not look ready for Instagram but tastes just as good. FairPrice has saved some 734,000kg of fruit and vegetables this way under its Great Taste, Less Waste programme. Consumers can also do more to help reduce wastage: cultivate conscious consumption; buy only what you need.