A Food Loss and Waste Strategy for Canada

The Council is pleased to announce its updated A Food Loss and Waste Strategy for Canada.

In 2017, the Council led a robust stakeholder engagement program on an earlier version, titled the National Food Waste Reduction Strategy. Key findings from over 900 stakeholders in the Canadian agri-food sector, as well as government and environmental organizations, included the recognition that more work on tackling food waste was needed along the whole supply chain, that capacity building related to infrastructure and distribution networks was important, and collaboration would be critical to achieve results.

Collaboration and a full systems approach

Like other complex, multifaceted problems, the fight against food waste calls for broad collaboration.

A Food Loss and Waste Strategy for Canada recommends a coordinated national effort to halve per capita food waste by 2030. A key theme of the strategy calls for a supply chain approach that would close the loop on food waste occurring during production, processing and distribution – before it even gets to consumers. The report takes into consideration the logistical challenges of Canada’s vast geography and sparse population centres, as well as the fact that most businesses involved in food production, distribution and retail operate on a relatively small scale.

The report recommendations, broadly supported by a diverse range of stakeholders, include:

  • Federal government support for a national food loss and waste reduction target of 50% by 2030
  • Introduction of approaches to “best before” date labelling
  • Improved inventory management at businesses and large institutions
  • Upgraded food service tracking and distribution
  • Removal of barriers to heighten recovery of leftover safe and nutritious food through gleaning and charitable networks
  • Elimination of financial, legal and policy obstacles surrounding food donations
  • Increased collaboration between government, businesses, retailers and community organizations

Stakeholder Engagement

In 2017, the National Zero Waste Council undertook a robust stakeholder engagement process involving over 900 stakeholders through webinars, workshops, interviews, and an online survey. See details below.


Update on What We Heard 


The majority of stakeholders supported a national strategy and urged the National Zero Waste Council to continue leading as a powerful convener for the initiative, which aims to yield significant economic, social, and environmental benefits across Canada.

Based on innovative and tried-and-tested policies and practices around the globe, the draft National Food Waste Reduction Strategy was built on three pillars: policy change, innovation and behavior change. The actions under each pillar were intended to work together to tackle food waste challenges at all levels of the supply chain across Canada from farm to consumer. 

Strong support was given to the policy and behavior change elements of the Strategy with stakeholders looking to take action on 'best before dates', the development of a national consumer campaign, and communications materials supporting nutritious food donations.  Most respondents also recommended prioritizing upstream, or top of the waste hierarchy, activities.

The tax incentive initially proposed by the Council in 2015 to support donated food to charities received mixed reviews. Most supporters agreed with the move in principle, but more needs to be done to educate retailers about surplus food and alleviate concerns that a tax incentive might bring unintended consequences, including straining the existing receiving infrastructure in place in most organizations. 

An updated national strategy has now been developed, titled A Food Loss and Waste Strategy for Canada

The original draft strategy was previously submitted to the federal government. See below for that 2016 submission. The Council has also actively contributed to the emerging A Food Policy for Canada. The Council is working hard to ensure that food loss and waste is being addressed in other national policy initiatives, while continuing to move forward with contemporary and cutting-edge recommendations for FLW action by leaders in government, business and civil society.