NEW ORLEANS — Doug Rauch, the former chief executive officer of Trader Joe’s and current c.e.o. of Conscious Capitalism, Inc., believes the next food revolution will be what consumers don’t eat.
“It will be about the wholesome food we are not eating — We are throwing it out,” he said June 22 during the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition taking place in New Orleans. “Much of food waste is exactly this — food not harvested — or in the case of Europe it is referred to as ‘ugly’ food. In this case perfect is the enemy of the good. We have misshapen produce that farmers know if it goes to a supermarket it will just sit there because we want perfect products.
“It is really critical we reframe our thinking about this excess food that we are not consuming for reasons that make no sense.”
Mr. Rauch took direct aim at sell by dates as a key source of food waste in developed countries.
“We have done a horrible job as an industry for the consumer of what the date is and how you should use it,” he said. “What we have ended up with is a display date code that is taken as an expiration date.”
One initiative Mr. Rauch has undertaken is the development of The Daily Table, a food service initiative that will collect wholesome foods that may go to waste, because they do not meet the presentation criteria to be sold in supermarkets, use it to create meals and sell it in the marketplace.
“The price would be agnostic with fast food,” Mr. Rauch said. “The Daily Table is a non-profit that is designed specifically around providing to that part of population that struggles to get nutritious food.”
Mr. Rauch said the challenge of feeding nine billion people in 35 years will require creative ideas and new technologies. Recovering wholesome foods from the waste stream will be a significant part of the solution, in his opinion.
“The Daily Table is a concept that is one type of a solution,” he said. “There are many others.“If we can recover just half of the food we are wasting — I say just half, because that is a big number and getting it all is unrealistic — we will have saved enough calories to produce 25% of all of the additional needs for nine billion people; it gets us a quarter of the way there. This is the low lying fruit — pun intended.”