Food Waste in Japan

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Jan 15, 2010 00:02 Japan situation food
My mother grew up in the times when Japan was a developing country. Like many Japanese, her parents sometimes had hard time securing necessary food for their family even though it wasn't poor. Because of this background, she always nagged me not to leave any food uneaten on my plates when I was a kid. She said that many people in the world could be starving. Thus, whenever I see food dumped, I wonder if there are effective ways to eliminate food waste. When I have no choice but to throw away food, I feel guilty.

Every time I moved back to Japan from a foreign country (I've lived in a few foreign countries), I realize that some, rather many fresh foods have shorter freshness dates here. Although I can find some accountable reasons, I don't know exact ones. I bet that this shortness partly leads to create the situation where a large amount of outdated fresh food is dumped even though some of them are still good enough to eat.

When I took two Western friends to a supermarket here at around 7pm, they were astonished by how many foods were discounted. In fact, more cut-price, close-to-date fresh foods and prepared foods appear after 5 pm (attached pictures). Some people are actually willing to wait until the time and buy them. These friends --one is an American and the other is a Slovakian-- didn't seem to understand why such good foods were on sale, saying that there was nothing wrong with them. They actually came from Guangzhou Chain since they were studying Chinese there at the time. Since they were used to seeing outdated or spoiled foods sold openly there, they might wonder more greatly. Even given this background and taking their astonishment with a grain of salt, we should realize again the neglected issue through their honest reactions.

According to the news, a lot of supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurants have been struggling to reduce food waste. This is also a key point to improve their business performance.

We have to review our attitude toward food.