In the video below we hear from Fedele Bauccio, founder and CEO of Bon Appetit Management. His company has built its reputation on locally sourced, seasonal, healthy foods, and is actively involved in sustainability issues affecting every aspect of the food industry.
Bauccio reveals some startling figures regarding food waste, both in the fields and at home. His company intends to undertake an initiative to combat this waste by raising consciousness among its consumers.
Isaac Pino: You mentioned that at Bon Appetit it's very difficult sometimes to source from local farms, to find the ingredients or the products that you want. You mentioned that it's a challenge for companies like Chipotle (NYSE:CMG) and Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFM) as well.
For farms to actually produce whatever they desire, or to succeed within the industry, do you believe that regulation has played a part in whether they can do the things that you're discussing, which is growing different types of agriculture or just competing with the big players?
Fedele Bauccio: Well, I think that a lot of small farmers are disincented because of the Farm Bill, which I think is wrong.
We spend a lot of money in the Farm Bill today to incent large farmers to grow corn for biofuel or for animal feed. We don't incent small farmers or farmers to grow corn for food. That's part of our issue. I'd like to be able to see some of that money from the Farm Bill go toward local producers.
People ask me all the time, "How can we feed, globally, the world with small ranchers and farmers? That's impossible." I'm going to tell you, it's not impossible. I know for a fact, and you've read this, that by the year 2050 we've got to serve 10 billion people in the world.
But in the United States... first of all, in Europe and Japan and Asia, there are small farmers all over the place. Their diet is different.
We need to think about how we change our diet because of the issues of childhood obesity and all the other issues that we face, to more of a plant-based diet. That doesn't mean we shouldn't eat meat. I love a hamburger and a steak, but we need to eat less of it. We don't need all the protein in order to survive that we used to need.
But there's another huge issue that is becoming a big problem for me, and one that I think that we are going to try to attack as a company, and that's the issue of waste: 40% of the food that's grown in this country is wasted, just down the tubes.
Over 20% is wasted in the fields. When they pick lettuce -- if you go into a place where they pick lettuce, or apples, or any of the farms -- you'll see that if there's a blemish on it or there's a little bit of rust on the lettuce, it just lays in the fields, and it's perfectly good food.
So 20% of what we grow is out in the fields, and it rots. We waste a bunch of it in restaurants. We waste a bunch of it because our portions are too big and we throw it, even in our homes, away. It's just staggering that almost half the food that we grow is wasted in this country. We've got to do a much better job of that.
Part of the initiative that we're going to start to think about is how do we message that to our own customers?
Last year we served over 160 million meals, across the United States, so I have a lot of people that we can message these things to, and hopefully if we message them either in a university or at the workplace, we can change behavior in the home.
That's part of the next initiative that we want to accomplish, as a company.
Isaac Pino, CPA, owns shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill. The Motley Fool recommends Chipotle Mexican Grill and Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool owns shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill and Whole Foods Market. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.