Rice, black beans Brazil’s most wasted food items

A study shows that the two add up to 38 percent of all wasted food

Published in 20/09/2018 - 19:51 By Andreia Verdélio - Brasília

The basis of Brazilian cuisine, rice and black beans account for 38 percent of all the food wasted in Brazil. The figure can be found in a study on consumption and waste habits of the project European Union–Brazil Sector Dialogues, spearheaded by the Brazilian Corporation of Agricultural Research (Embrapa), with the support of the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV).

The survey heard 1,764 families from different social classes and all regions of Brazil. The ranking of most wasted foodstuffs shows rice (22 percent), beef (20), black beans (16), and chicken (15) with the highest waste rates.

“The big surprise was that meats appeared with an exorbitant waste rate—a product with enormous aggregate value, as well as nutritional value,” said FGV Marketing Professor Carlos Eduardo Lourenço.

Arroz e Feijão são os alimentos mais desperdiçados no país
Arroz e Feijão são os alimentos mais desperdiçados no país - Antonio Cruz/ABr

The data were disclosed yesterday (Sep. 20) during an international seminar on food losses and waste in Brasília.

In Brazil, food waste in an average household stands at 353 gram a day. Among the reasons reported are the search for flavor and a predilection for abundance among Brazilian consumers. Not using meal leftovers is the main factor behind the disposal of beans and rice.

The culture of abundance

Figures show that 61 percent of the families prefer single large-scale monthly shopping sprees coupled with smaller purchases over the course of the month. This, specialists believe, leads to waste, as it increases the likelihood that unnecessary items are bought, especially when large-scale shopping is combined with poor meal planning.

Contradictions are also seen among respondents. While 94 percent say it is important not to waste food, 59 percent do not see it as an issue if there is just too much food on the table or in the pantry. Most families (68 percent) find it very important to have their pantry and refrigerator filled with food. “Brazilians like abundance, it’s really common in our culture,” Lourenço said.

Waste as villain

Waste happens in all walks of life, Lourenço went on to say. “It’s not a villain, it’s a problem in society in general.” Considering vegetables alone, he says, was is more often seen among members of higher social classes.

Brazil’s Environment Minister Edson Duarte says every link in the chain must be addressed if waste is to be effectively fought—preventing products from being left in the field, with the use of technology to boost production and preserve the environment; making sure that food reaches both the industry and the household, with the trade of fresh goods; and promoting education among consumers.

“One third of all agricultural production is being wasted, both it in the post-harvest stage and in the entire food chain. If we were able to address this effectively, we’d be fighting hunger and mitigating the pressure on our forests and natural resources,” he argued.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Sabrina Craide / Augusto Queiroz

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