Food flows

It was estimated that the South West produced 6.9 million tonnes of food in 2001. An additional 2.4 million tonnes were imported from abroad, while exports were a little over 1 million tonnes. Table 7 provides a summary of food flows in the South West, in 2001.

Table 7
Food flows through the South West, in 2001 ('000 tonnes)
Production 6,921
Imports 2,354
Exports 1,026
Stock changes 96
Gross supply* 8,345
of which…  
Non-domestic 3,741
of which…  
Feed 2,368
Seed 120
Processing 786
Waste** 94
Other uses*** 375
Apparent domestic gross consumption**** 4,603
of which…  
Net food consumption+ 3,445
Unidentified++ 1,158
* Gross supply includes all raw food supplied to the South West prior to processing.
** This waste includes agricultural produce waste, and excludes all domestic and food processing waste.
*** Other uses include food consumed by tourists, food in storage and non-food uses such as oil for soap.
**** Apparent domestic gross consumption is the amount of food available for consumption.
+ Net food consumption is the estimated amount of food consumed by residents (see Table 8).
++ Unidentified food includes pet food, losses of edible food during storage and preparation, as plate-waste, quantities fed to domestic animals and pets, or thrown away.
Note: Totals may differ due to rounding.
Source: DEFRA, 2002 & 2003b; FAO, 2002 and ONS, 2001a & 2003

It was estimated that the South West was supplied (gross) 8.4 million tonnes (1.7 tonnes per person) of food in 2001 (this includes imports and agricultural materials harvested from the region). However, not all of this was consumed by residents. Around 2.5 million tonnes were 're-invested' back into agriculture in the form of feed and seed, while another 786,000 tonnes were lost through processing. Figure 3 summarises food supply in the region.

Figure 3
A breakdown of food supplied to the South West, in 2001

fig 3

* Waste = food losses at all stages between production and the household, i.e. during storage and transport. This does not include losses before or during harvest, or household food waste.
** Other uses include food consumed by tourists, food in storage and non-food uses such as oil for soap.

Sources: DEFRA, 2003 & 2003a; FAO, 2002 and ONS, 2001a & 2003

Although 4.6 million tonnes of food were available for consumption in the South West in 2001, 3.5 million tonnes were actually consumed. This equates to about 698kg of food consumed per person each year. Including materials used and lost during agriculture and processing, cooking, storage and plate waste, the average person would indirectly consume 930kg of food per year. This is 61kg more than the average resident in Scotland.

Table 8 summarises food consumed in the South West in 2001, by food type and whether it was eaten in (household consumption) or eaten out (for example, at restaurants). Bread and cereal, and milk and cream constituted almost 30% of a South West resident's diet.

Table 8
Food consumed by South West residents, in 2001 ('000 tonnes)
Total food consumption 3,445
  Eaten at home Eaten out
Sub-total 3,012 432
of which…  
Milk & cream 577 <5
Cheese 154 <5
Meat 32 26
Fish 256 5
Eggs 42 <5
Fats 43 <5
Sugar & preserves 49 <5
Potatoes 38 26
Other vegetables* 173 18
Fruit 372 5
Bread & other cereals** 369 19
Beverages 427 108
Soft drinks 17 72
Confectionery 242 <5
Alcoholic drinks 33 92
Other*** 187 54
* Other vegetables include all fresh, green and processed vegetables such as lettuce, sprouts or carrots, but excludes potatoes.
** Other cereals include breakfast cereals, snacks (for example popadums), cakes and flour.
*** Other foods include for example soups, salad dressings and sauces.
Note: Totals may differ due to rounding.
Source: DEFRA, 2002 & 2003b and ONS, 2003

Food production and processing

More than 8,000 tonnes of apples were harvested in the South West in 2001. An estimated 740 tonnes of solid waste arose from the growing and harvest of these apples (90kg/tonne). In comparison, the production of 400,000 tonnes of potatoes gave rise to an estimated 16,000 tonnes of solid waste (40 kg/t).

In total, the South West food processing industry generated 609,000 tonnes of waste. Just over 30% of this was reused, with recycling and waste sent to landfill being the next most common forms of waste management. The beverage industry generated the largest quantity of waste in the sector, 140,000 tonnes. Table 9 provides a more detailed breakdown of the waste management methods used.

Table 9
Waste generated by the food processing industry in the South West, by sector and waste management method, in 2001 ('000 tonnes)
Processing type Waste management method
Landfill Reuse Recycled Other** Total
Total waste* 147 187 147 128 609
Animal feeds 12 0 2 11 25
Beverages 27 93 10 10 140
Dairy products 23 10 46 21 99
Fruit & vegetables 15 12 39 7 74
Grain mill products 1 2 1 3 8
Meat & meat products 29 21 15 61 125
Oils & fats <1 <1 <1 <1 <1
Other foods 41 49 34 15 139
* Total waste includes food waste such as animal and meat products, fruit and vegetables, as well as plastics, rubber, paper, card, wood, metal, glass and soil.
** Other includes land recovery, thermal, treatment and transfer.
Sources: C-Tech, 2004 & University of Plymouth. 2003

To decrease the amount of food processing waste going to landfill, or to reduce the amount generated, it is useful to develop a better understanding of the types of waste found in this waste stream. Figure 4 provides a breakdown of the waste by type. Biodegradable waste (animal and non-animal) was the largest amount generated (54% of the total food processing waste stream). Paper, card and glass make up a small fraction of the stream, whereas other (unidentified) wastes form the second largest component at 24%.

Figure 4
Waste generated by the food processing industry in the South West, by waste type, in 2001


* Other includes soil and unidentified products.

Sources: C-Tech, 2004; DEFRA, 2003a; FAO, 2002 and University of Plymouth, 2003