More than half the food produced in Canada is wasted and the average kitchen tosses out hundreds of dollars worth of edibles every year, says a study researchers are calling the first of its kind.
"It's a lot of food," said Lori Nikkel of Second Harvest, the Toronto-based group working to reduce food waste that commissioned the study.
"We waste more food than we consume."
The study released Thursday is the world's first to measure food waste using data from industry and other sources instead of estimates, said Martin Gooch of Value Chain Management International, which conducted the study.
Value Chain works with agriculture, aquaculture, marine and food industries to make them more profitable.
"What we did was actually go to industry and (said), 'Give us primary data,'" Gooch said. "This is the first time anywhere in the world that anyone's gone out and got primary data that connects production with consumers."
Results were checked with industry experts.
"At every point in the process, we ground-truthed it," said Gooch.
"We're confident our results are conservative."
Previous work has suggested that Canadians waste almost 400 kilograms of food per person, one of the world's highest totals. The new work adds considerable detail to that figure.
Apples rot in the grass for lack of harvest workers. Surplus milk is flushed. Thousands of hectares of produce are plowed after cancelled orders.
The report, funded largely by the Walmart Foundation, concludes 58 per cent of Canadian food production is wasted.
The report says the value of usable groceries that wind up in landfills or other disposal sites is almost $50 billion. That's more than half the amount Canadians spend on food every year and is enough to feed every Canadian for five months.
As well, it says avoidable food waste in Canada produces more than 22 million tonnes of climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions.