HUFFINGTON POST
11/08/2012 01:21 pm ET

Food Waste Is The Inevitable Result Of Low Prices, Unilever Exec Says

The prices of many foods have risen considerably over the past several years, thanks to factors ranging from bad weather, pro-corn ethanol energy policies and greater demand from the developing world. That has some consumer advocates and anti-hunger warriors wracking their brains over how to bring down the price of food.

But Jan Kees Vis, the head of sustainability at packaged food giant Unilever, actually thinks that food prices are too low, not too high.

Not because he wants Unilever to turn a higher profit -- though he probably wouldn't object to that. Instead, according to the Telegraph, Kees Vis (who won a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award for his work on food sustainability in 2011) thinks that low prices encourage food waste.

Kees Vis noted that half of the food purchased in London ends up being thrown out. (Statistics on food waste in the U.S. are no more encouraging.) He argued that people wouldn't be as likely to buy too much food -- and end up throwing out so much of it -- if their food cost more than it does now.

One caveat: Kees Vis's comments apply only to the developed world. People living in countries with developing economies generally spend a far higher percentage of their income on meals than do people in first world countries, so he was not suggesting that they have analogous problems with waste.

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