Rethink, Reuse, Relish

Recently hosted at The Ground Venue in Muldersdrift, the "Feast of Purpose" event gathered key stakeholders from across the agricultural value chain. Collaboratively, they explored practical strategies targeted at mitigating food waste, with the imperative of achieving 'zero waste to landfill' standing as a pivotal sustainability objective for McCain.

McCain Foodservice, joined by sector organisation Agri SA, funeral services and benefits provider AVBOB, and digital platform OneFarmShare, spearheaded the event. The primary emphasis was on addressing wastage occurring at farms and fresh produce markets.

In South Africa, the stark reality of food insecurity affects at least one-third of households, while a troubling one-third of the 31 million tons of food produced annually ends up in landfills. Food loss and waste ultimately pose significant environmental and economic challenges. They not only contribute to 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions and 80% of deforestation but also drive inefficiencies, leading to increased food costs for consumers.

Food for Thought

The “Feast of Purpose” lunch spotlighted the ingenuity of Chef Clayton who showcased his innovative approach to utilising "ugly" produce. Through captivating demonstrations, Chef Clayton illustrated how imperfections in produce can be transformed into culinary masterpieces, affirming that quality and taste remain uncompromised despite appearances.

In contrast to more developed countries, where food waste tends to occur after distribution, in South Africa, the majority of food waste happens before it even reaches consumers. Dr Tracy Ledger, a food systems expert and senior researcher at the Public Affairs Research Institute, underscored the significance of shorter food value chains. These chains involve facilitating direct purchases of fresh produce at the farm gate, which could encourage consumers to embrace so-called "imperfect" fruits and vegetables, thereby reducing waste.

In between courses, which included crispy kale chips and creamy cauliflower puree, Angus Robinson of OneFarm Share detailed various initiatives where the organisation matches surplus produce with charitable causes, leading to the redistribution of over 21,555 tons of fresh food to those in need since 2021. This programme not only addresses hunger but also reduces food waste by providing market access and support to small-scale farmers.

Flavours of Change

McCain also had an opportunity to share more about the company’s community food garden project, implemented in collaboration with Shoprite and Food & Trees For Africa. This initiative empowers community members at the Siyonqoba Centre for People Living with Disabilities and the Tholakele Centre of Hope by promoting local food security and facilitating the sale of produce at retailer, Shoprite, contributing to more sustainable community livelihoods.

Further to this, McCain South Africa has also joined forces with non-profit, Reel Life, to roll out an agricultural skills development project. Through this initiative, households receive a Garden-in-a-Box with customised seeds and tools as well as monthly seed packages that are equipped to sustainably feed a family of four for a year. The project supports over 500 households, benefiting 2,000 individuals in both Delmas and Springs.

McCain Foods’ Community Baking Programme at the Tholakele Centre of Hope in Springs, in partnership with the Culinarian Consultants, has also “risen” to new heights. Here, unemployed youth are equipped with baking skills and knowledge about running a successful bakery business. Produce that retailers or farmers cannot use can also be utilised by participants to enhance baked goods and create new offerings, expanding their range of products.

This collective action and purpose-driven initiative exemplifies the strides being made towards a world with #ZeroHunger, one meal and one partnership at a time. By empowering communities with sustainable agricultural practices and nourishing food sources, a future can be paved where hunger is eradicated, and every individual can thrive.