More than 15 percent of food grown in Kenya is discarded due to the “cosmetic standards” of supermarkets in Europe.
Nairobi, Kenya - On a farm a few hundred kilometres from the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, Samson Kariuki* is engaging in a strange ritual: chopping large chunks off his green beans. Every green bean grown on his farm is cut down by around a third before it goes to market, and the remainder tossed on a heap. The reason? Beans are bendy and the cellophane packets in UK supermarkets are short and straight.
In a country where 3 million people are dependent on food aid, he wastes 40 tonnes of edible green beans, broccoli, sugar snaps, and runner beans every week, primarily because they are the wrong size, shape or colour. This is enough to provide meals for over 250,000 people, and equates to 40 percent of his entire crop.
Kariuki is supplying one well-known British retailer, but campaigner Tristram Stuart, who spent the past week visiting Kenyan farmers in the run up to a UN Environment Programme (UNEP) dinner to highlight the problem of food waste, says he knows of many others in similar situations.
“The unfair and unnecessary practices of European supermarkets are forcing Kenyan farmers to waste colossal amounts of food while millions of people go hungry,” he told Al Jazeera in Nairobi. “Sometimes whole consignments are rejected because they contain produce with slight cosmetic defects.”
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