Food waste research in China

Cheng, Shengkui (2014). Special session: Food waste research in China : motivation field study, and preliminary results. The Last Food Mile Conference, December 8, 2014, Philadelphia, USA. http://repository.upenn.edu/thelastfoodmile/sessions/session/21.

Food Waste Away-From-Home in the Beijing Urban Area—An Estimate Based on First-Hand Data

Reducing food waste is attracting growing public attention in China, and is widely acknowledged to contribute to abating interlinked sustainability challenges such as food security, climate change, and water shortages. However, the pattern and scale of food waste throughout the consumer stage is poorly understood in China, despite growing media coverage and public concerns in recent years. This paper aims to the estimate food waste away-from-home in the Beijing urban area, mainly based on first-hand surveys.

During the first-hand surveys in the catering sector in the Beijing urban area in 2013, 187 restaurants were investigated, which can be divided into large, middle, small, canteen and fast food categories. Finally, 3833 samples were been collected, and each sample included two parts: a consumer questionnaire, and the weight of food waste generated.

The main conclusions are as follows: (1) It is estimated that about 79.69 g food waste were generated per capita and per meal away-from-home in the Beijing urban area. Obviously, the food waste varied greatly depending on the type of restaurant. For example, the generation in large restaurants was more severe, up to 3 times that in fast food restaurants. (2) The food waste generated comprises many different food groups; the most prominent by weight were cereals (25%), vegetables (41%), meats( 13%), seafood products (11%), poultry (7%), legumes (1%), eggs (2%), and dairy products (less than 1%). (3) According to different purposes and motivations of the meals, the estimate of food waste is: friends meeting (109 g), public events (95 g),family parties (62 g), working meals(63 g) (4) Causes of food waste away-from-home identified in urban China predominantly involve: lack of awareness, portion sizes, individual food preferences, income, and age of the diner. (5) On this basis, the study estimates annual food waste generation away-from-home in the Beijing urban area at approximately 298×103 tonnes, requiring the inputs of about 93441 hm2 arable land, 774020 hm2 grassland, 2461 hm2 water area and 829×103 m3 water wasted without benefit to the consumer.

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Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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