Consumers get all up in arms about the culls they see at retail, or food that goes unharvested due to market and labor conditions.
But they don’t want to take a look in their own personal food oubliette.
Oubliette is a French word for “a place to forget things” and, historically, oubliettes were a type of dungeon where a person was abandoned to their misery…where they most likely died.
Save The Food, an ad campaign by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Ad Council has a fantastic video that really hits home for those of us in on the sell side of produce.
The title is the perfect click bait, “The Extraordinary Life and Times of Strawberry,” but they don’t tell you – spoiler alert -- the one-minute video is actually a tragedy.
It follows a beautiful, ripe, red, juicy strawberry from the field to a clamshell, to the distribution center, to the store and into a consumers’ refrigerator.
Where it dies a lonely, horrible death, forgotten behind the mustard.
I really did feel a pang of sadness when I watched. It was close to a movie where the dog inexplicably dies or someone drop kicks a kitten. They even used the same music from the heartbreaking opening montage of Disney’s UP!
I love their message, though.
“Wasting food wastes everything – water, labor, fuel, money, love.”
While consumers are quick to point the finger at the produce industry to shape up, improve logistics and waste less, this is a not-so-subtle way to fire back.
After all, nearly half of food that is harvested and brought to market is residential, according to the most recent findings from the Food Waste Reduction Alliance. The study, conducted by Business for Social Responsibility, found that 44% of food discarded in the U.S. was residential. Twenty percent was full service restaurants, 13% was quick-service restaurants, 10% was institutional, 2% was industrial.
Only 11% was at grocery stores.
I’m not saying we don’t have to work on shrink and being the most efficient operators we can be. After all, in retail, food waste is shrink.
And nobody likes shrink.