Preventing food waste. A comparison of Japan and the UK.

The paper The article ‘Preventing Food Waste: CASE STUDIES OF JAPAN AND THE UNITED KINGDOM’ by Andrew Parry, Paul Bleazard, Koki Okawa compares how Japan and the UK measure and attend organic waste (Parry et al 2015). Food waste policies were prepared in Japan by the Japanese government and in the UK by Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). The information has been prepared for Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for its ongoing work in trade impacts of food loss and and waste reduction.

The OECD was created in 1960 to stimulate economic growth and world trade. It comprises of 35 countries of which include Japan, the UK and Australia (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2017).

In 2000 Japan introduced policies to control and recycle food loss and waste (Parry et al. 2015). Japan motors the effectiveness of its policies by collecting data from manufacturing, wholesaling, retail and catering industries. The Japanese food industry has created a working group that examines business customs. The aim of the group is to reduce food waste and to review delivery deadlines and labelling methods such as best-before dates.


(Parry et al. 2015 p.20)


The articles states that the degree of freshness is the most cited reason to discard organic waste. Also common is expiration of use-by date and best-before date. The article claims that through recent advances in technology products now have a much longer lifespan. The problem it says is that expiration dates to not necessarily reflect these advancements. A problem in Japan as explained by this paper is the business custom between food manufacturers, wholesaler and retailer called the ‘one third rule’. The rule is defined as:

“retailers divide the period from the date of manufacture to the best before date into roughly three equal parts, and apply them as the period for the products to be delivered from manufacturers or wholesalers and as the period for the products to be sold to consumers.” (Parry et al. 2015 p.23)

Other countries have similar practices but are not as strict. For Example in U.S. the deadline for product delivery is half of the best-before date and in Europe it is two-thirds of the best-before date. This results in less food making it to the consumer market in Japan. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in collaboration with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry aim to extend the delivery deadline to retailers from one-third to half of the best-before date.

In the UK WRAP has initiated the Courtauld Commitment (CC) and Hospitality and Food Service Agreement (HaFSA) which act as the primary mechanisms for facilitation of food waste.

WRAP define food waste as:

“Food waste is any food that had the potential to be eaten, together with any unavoidable waste, which is lost from the human food supply chain, at any point along that chain”. (Parry et al. 2015 p.27)

Avoidable food is food that is edible where as unavoidable food is inedible such as banana peels.


(Parry et al. 2015 p.34)


(Parry et al. 2015 p.35)

From the graph one can see that 40% of all food waste are ‘carbohydrates’. Even more surprising is that potatoes alone make up the largest group at 21%. Significant reduction in waste could be made just by targeting the waste of potatoes.

The article ‘Preventing Food Waste: CASE STUDIES OF JAPAN AND THE UNITED KINGDOM’ by Andrew Parry, Paul Bleazard, Koki Okawa was provided by the OECD and is available for anyone to download for free from their iLibrary –

In 2007 WRAP launched ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ (Love Food Hate Waste 2017). lfhw-footer-logo

Since the release of this campaign it has spread world wide. The NSW EPA created their own LFHW website (NSW EPA 2017). This website is great as it takes the concepts of LFHW and revolves it around what’s relevant to NSW. It contain solutions to reduce food waste as well as food waste research that has been conducted in NSW.

It is noted that in Japan the increase in product lifespan has evolved faster than the labeling (Parry et al. 2015). I don’t know if that’s the case in Australia. It is worth mentioning that the use-by date is there for safety reasons where as the best-before label is there as a suggestion and can be consumed after that date. If you are not sure about the difference here is a website that can explain in more detail as well as provide many other tips.

Also in Australia we have a label for baked-on which informs the consumer when the item was backed and lets them decide themselves when is the appropriate date to discard the item. More information about labeling can be found on the Food Standards in Australia and New Zealand’s ‘Overview and Application of Food Labelling and Information Requirements’ user guide on page 15 (Food Standards Australia New Zealand 2011).


Reference list

Food Standards Australia New Zealand 2011, Overview and Application of Food Labelling and Information Requirements, Viewed 18 June 2017, <>

Love Food Hate Waste 2017, LFHW, Viewed 18 June 2017, <>

NSW EPA 2017, Love Food Hate Waste, Viewed 18 June 2017, <>

Parry, A. Bleazard, P. Okawa, K. 2015, Preventing Food Waste CASE STUDIES OF JAPAN AND THE UNITED KINGDOM, OECD Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Papers, No. 76, Viewed 18 June 2017, <>

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2017, About, OECD, Viewed 18 June 2017, <>




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