News Review

FOOD WASTE effecting wildlife; new look DEFRA; $1B in organic sales; overcapacity in foodservice and climate denial not dead.

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Food waste putting birds and fish at peril

 

We already know that food waste is a pressing problem, but a new study analysing gull feeding habits has shown how it is causing problems in other parts of the food chain.

 

The study found the lack of fish available due to overfishing, combined with the availability of human trash has changed gulls eating habits. This highlights some “underappreciated threats to biodiversity,” as abundant waste food supplies support these predator populations. This puts more pressure on the fish stocks they typically feed from, such as the “imperilled steelhead’.

 

 

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DEFRA to be re-shaped with extra budget

 

DEFRA will be “reshaped” and “modernised” to stop it and its agencies operating in silos, and to drive investment in science and animal and plant health.

 

Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference this week, Liz Truss announced that £2.7 billion has been secured to invest in capital - 12 per cent more than in the previous five years. The money is earmarked for investment in technology, digital systems, growing exports, world-leading science, protection against animal health and plant disease, and flood defences. Decision-making will also be decentralised.

 

Details on the “bold” new DEFRA will be released in the coming months. However, industry bodies such as the NFU are already querying whether the reshape will go far enough.

 

 

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$1 billion in organic sales

 

An American farmer-owned co-operative has topped $1 billion in sales to become the first billion dollar organic-only food company. The Cropp Co-operative/Organic Valley business was founded in 1988 by seven struggling families, and now has a membership of 1,800 farmers.

 

 

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Overcapacity likely to slow growth

 

Oversupply in the eating out market is expected to put downward pressure on like-for-like sales, whilst increasing competition amongst competitors, predicts food service consultancy, Horizons.

 

Its figures show the number of pubs where food-led sales exceed wet sales has increased by 135% between 2001 and 2014. Chain restaurants numbers have grown by 55%, and quick service restaurants by 78%. Horizon predicts the increased competition will lead to “a struggle to improve like-for-like sales across the sector, keeping menu prices fairly flat and margins low.” With budgets squeezed, Footprint predicts that pressure will increase on sustainability initiatives to deliver cost savings.

 

 

 

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Climate denial still an issue

 

After COP21, you might feel safe in thinking that the era of climate denial was over. A newly released study analysing 15 years of output from 19 conservative think tanks in the US has found that climate denial activity has actually increased over the last 15 years. The think tanks, which include the Heartland Institute, the Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute, have switched from a policy to a scientific focus, releasing a stream of pseudo-scientific and sceptic material into the public domain to undermine legitimate climate science.

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