Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Berthier—Maskinongé for raising the important issue of food waste.
These ideas are valid, but we think we need more time to look closely at the issue and develop a national food policy with a specific action plan. Food waste is a complex issue that spans the whole system from farmers' fields to families' dining tables.
That is why we believe we should talk about a national strategy for our government, which our government pledged to develop. An increasing number of Canadians are becoming concerned about food loss and waste because it is a societal phenomenon that will affect our children and grandchildren.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that one-third of the food available worldwide is lost or wasted every year. That amounts to $750 billion. In May 2015, G20 agriculture ministers recognized that food waste is an international issue.
Then, in April of this year, the G7 agriculture ministers, including the hon. Lawrence MacAulay, agreed that they should take action to reduce food waste and strengthen food security.
Fruits and vegetables are the food products most likely to be wasted and account for nearly half of all food wasted worldwide. Food is wasted at every stage of the agri-food system. We estimate that these losses account for approximately 30% to 40% of the food produced throughout the value chain.
As for Canadian households, food waste represents about $14.5 billion, the larger share of the value of overall food losses in the country in 2014.
In 2009, over 1.5 billion tonnes of food were lost or wasted around the world, which is enough food to feed one billion people every day for an entire year. We can and we must do better when it comes to managing food waste. That is why Canadians need a strong and equitable food policy that meets their needs.
As we know, food waste is problem that has a serious impact on the food security of Canadian families and on the environment.
Our government is committed to working with Canadians to develop a national food policy. It will develop this policy in order to promote healthy living and the quality of Canadian food, as well as to provide families across the country with better, healthier food grown and raised by Canadian farmers and producers.
We will invite the different levels of government, the agri-food industry, and sector stakeholders, including dietitians, environmental groups, organizations that promote food security, and all Canadians to participate in this policy development process.
The issue of food waste will certainly be addressed as part of the discussions. This is a government-wide issue that goes beyond the responsibilities of the Department of Agriculture, which increases the complexity of the file. Food waste also touches on the mandate of many government agencies and industry organizations, given that this is an important issue for agriculture, security, and the environment.
We agree with the member for Berthier—Maskinongé that food waste is a serious problem. We are presently addressing the problem from various angles.
Our government has invested $38.5 million to modernize Canada's food security system.
We will also invest $70 million in research in order to invigorate the agricultural sector and develop new and innovative techniques to reduce food losses in the primary production phase and to analyze and quantify the food lost or wasted, among other things.
We are concerned about the food security of Canadian families, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researchers across the country are trying to reduce agricultural losses in order to address this issue. Reducing food losses, increasing the amount of food, the shelf life of food, and the decay of horticultural products are at the top of our list of priorities.
We even have researchers in British Columbia overseeing a post-harvest research program, whose results could be of interest to the international community that wishes to work on reducing food waste.
As we saw, our research centres are involved in many activities to reduce losses and to work down the food chain. In addition to the techniques to reduce food waste, there are techniques to recycle organic waste from food. A company in British Columbia has developed a technique using insects to convert food waste from grocery stores into products that farmers can use to feed their animals and fertilize their crops. The project received financial assistance through the growing forward 2 program, following an agreement between the federal government and British Columbia.
This issue is important to our government. Environment and Climate Change Canada is also a key player when it comes to addressing food waste. It has formed a partnership with the North American Free Trade Agreement Commission for Environmental Cooperation. The partnership supports efforts to reduce food waste in landfills by looking for ways to reduce food waste in industry, businesses, and institutions.
Our government will continue to act in this file. We will talk about food waste as part of our discussions preceding the development of a national food policy with sector representatives.
As a farmer, I am particularly sensitive to the issue of food security. When I decided to go into politics, I made it my mission to help every Canadian family have access to good-quality, healthy food. I am making it my personal duty to fight tooth and nail for this cause and improve the quality of life of our families.
After meeting with many organizations that are working to eliminate food insecurity, such as Food Secure Canada, the Dietitians of Canada, La Corne d'abondance, and Complexe le Partage, I saw that food waste is a major factor that must be included in a national food policy.
We will not support this bill because we believe that the best solution is to first consult Canadians and the industry. We believe that food waste will be part of those discussions, and the information obtained from the consultations will be used to develop a national food policy that reflects Canadians' wishes and values.
Once again, I would like to thank the member for raising this issue so that the industry and all Canadians can make real changes and reduce waste at every stage of the food processing chain, from farm to table.