Mr. Speaker, it is our job as parliamentarians to discuss ideas that can help make Canada a better country. That is why I want to congratulate my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé on her bill. I have no doubt it is well-intentioned, but for various reasons that I will get into in my speech, the government will not support it.
To start with, food waste is a very complex issue. There is some debate around the nature and scale of the problem. For example, one question that comes up often has to do with figuring out where we can have the most impact in terms of curbing waste. Is it on farms, at processing plants, at grocery stores, or in Canadian households? We need answers to those questions before we can proceed.
We think that the best way to get those answers is to have inclusive conversations about a national food policy. In fact, the government committed to introducing just such a policy by consulting stakeholders and Canadian families.
We are aware that food loss and waste are serious issues of concern to people across Canada, to our government, and certainly to your humble servant, Mr. Speaker, and rightly so.
In 2014, Value Chain Management International estimated the value of food waste and losses in Canada to be $31 billion. The organization also indicated that the equivalent of 30% to 40% of food products are wasted in Canada. Approximately 50% of the food waste in Canada occurs in households, whereas about 20% occurs in processing.
There are several causes of food waste, including purchasing too many perishable products, the inability to properly prepare food, which is generally the case for me, poor storage, inadequate portions, and quite simply purchasing food that we do not like.
The remaining waste occurs on the farm, at retailers, in restaurants, and during transportation. When we see the statistics, we cannot simply remain indifferent about this issue, and the government certainly is not. Reducing food waste benefits consumers, farmers, processors, retailers, and restaurateurs. It benefits society as a whole. Furthermore, reducing food waste can help farmers and businesses reduce operating costs.
It is also possible to take full advantage of the by-products. Food waste residuals can be used or converted to make animal feed. Granular biomass can be used for heating or in dyes. Other examples of derived products include ethanol or fertilizers and detergents.
Reducing food waste can also improve food security and help the environment through better use of water and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the decomposition of organic materials at landfills. Those are a few examples.
The entire world, including Canada, is addressing food waste. Recently, a number of UN agencies and other international groups launched a global standard for measuring food waste and loss. The purpose of this new accounting and reporting standard for food waste and loss is to have governments, businesses, and other organizations measure food waste and loss internationally in a more consistent way.
In the United Kingdom, leading supermarkets have pledged to drive down food and drink waste by a fifth within the next decade. Retailers there are backing a voluntary agreement that also targets a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions created by the food and drink industry.
By way of example, the United Kingdom's biggest grocery chain also committed to sending no surplus food to waste from its stores by the end of next year by redistributing it to charities.
In Canada, I am proud that retailers are also taking a leadership role in reducing food waste. For example, recently, we saw a large supermarket chain expand its offering of imperfect fruits and vegetables. Canadian consumers can now buy this produce for approximately 30% less than the cost of the other fruits and vegetables that are usually sold in supermarkets. That prevents food waste. Based on the success of the trial period, consumers in Quebec and Ontario can also now buy imperfect peppers, onions, and mushrooms.
The provincial and municipal governments also have an important role to play in managing food waste. For example, in 2014, Ontario implemented a tax credit for food donations made by farmers to food banks or other similar organizations in order to help reduce food waste.
In its latest budget, Nova Scotia announced a similar tax credit for its farmers. Our own government is working hard to fight food waste in a number of ways. For example, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada supports research into reducing food waste at the primary production stage and research into analyzing how much food is wasted or lost.
Our science and innovation investments are also helping to reduce food waste. We have researchers looking for ways to transform vegetables that would normally be thrown out into marketable food products. That is just one example of how our government is working on fighting food waste.
That being said, we clearly need to do more. We definitely have to tackle food waste. However, we believe in giving the matter careful consideration and gathering input from a broad range of stakeholders before crafting a comprehensive, coordinated approach. That is exactly what we are proposing because this issue affects the entire supply chain from farms to families.
One crucial part of the equation is raising awareness of how food is produced. That is why the Government of Canada is planning to include discussions about food waste in our national food policy consultations.
Our government is committed to working in partnership with all stakeholders and Canadians to develop a national food policy. To achieve that, we plan to consult with provincial and territorial governments, stakeholders, and Canadians in order to better shape our food policy and better guide potential initiatives to tackle food waste.
As part of a national food policy, we will first put forward a vision, principles, and objectives and then propose a more collaborative and more integrated approach with regard to the food policy issues. This notion is supported by the Canadian agriculture industry and various stakeholders, particularly the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Food Secure Canada, the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, and the Conference Board of Canada. Each of those organizations has published reports and made an invaluable contribution to the discussions on food policy.
We will begin extensive public consultations with the food industry and Canadians next year in order to come up with a Canadian food policy worthy of the name. We believe it is important to study this issue as a whole, that is, from farm to table.
Despite the good intentions behind Bill C-231, the government will not be supporting it. We believe that developing a national food policy is the right way forward, which will enable us to hold consultations and focus on future initiatives to tackle food waste in Canada.
In closing, I want to emphasize that this is a very important issue. Let there be no doubt that the importance of reducing food waste warrants an in-depth discussion. With that in mind, I want to thank the member for Berthier—Maskinongé for raising this crucial matter.