Food Policy

Donating Food to the Needy Is Good, So Obviously Somebody (France) Will Make It Mandatory

Politicians ignore role in citizen poverty, instead mandate new obligations to food retailers.

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Twenty pounds of unwanted pimento loaf incoming!
credit: Mark Turnauckas / photo on flickr

Food retailers in France are now going to be required to—at the threat of possible jail time—donate any food they can't sell to charity. And if it's not fit for humans, it's to be sent out for animal feed. Furthermore, food retailers would be forbidden from deliberately spoiling the food it tosses away with bleach to stop scavengers. But there's more: The supermarkets have to do all the work. This has the companies affected upset at the new mandates. From The Guardian:

The Fédération du Commerce et de la Distribution, which represents big supermarkets, criticised the plan. "The law is wrong in both target and intent, given the big stores represent only 5% of food waste but have these new obligations," said Jacques Creyssel, head of the organisation. "They are already the pre-eminent food donors, with more than 4,500 stores having signed agreements with aid groups."

The logistics of the law must also not put an unfair burden on charities, with the unsold food given to them in a way that is ready to use, a parliamentary report has stipulated. It must not be up to charities to have to sift through the waste to set aside squashed fruit or food that had gone off. Supermarkets have said that charities must now also be properly equipped with fridges and trucks to be able to handle the food donations.

Altogether, only about 10 percent of food waste in France comes from the retail side. The largest chunk, 67 percent, is wasted by the consumer. But read a little more about the push for this law over at The Atlantic, and you can see that this is an emotional response from French politicians who were outraged at the idea of people going hungry, but have little interest in the root causes. The French politician behind the law, Arash Derambarsh, wants to take it global, and he doesn't even seem to care whether it's actually effective:

Derambarsh, for his part, doesn't seem bothered by questions about the applicability of his campaign beyond France. When I asked about the small percentage of food waste that retailers contribute, he responded, "I don't want to talk about the percentages. I will talk only about what I see in reality—the reality that all of the supermarkets throw out 40 kilos of food [each night]. I don't care if it's 1 percent or 10 percent. … My only problem is that these 40 kilos will not go to the garbage, but [instead] will go to the plates of poor people."

Edward Delman at The Atlantic notes that both the United Kingdom and the United States both have significant systems in place for food donations, and what Dermabarsh may personally "see in reality" is pretty limited:

For one thing, the United States already has a rather robust public-private donation system in place. Feeding America, the nation's largest hunger-relief organization, reports that it provides food to 46.5 million people per year, or roughly the number of food-insecure people in the United States. Moreover, hidden costs may mean that a law mandating food donations could do more harm than good, according to Elise Golan, the director for sustainable development at USDA. "The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," she said. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Yes, that's right; A USDA representative has doubts about expanding government intervention and unintended consequences. That's okay: According to France, you can just make the supermarkets handle the logistics and the problem will be solved.

In Southampton, England, a charity is actually warning against bringing the French solution across the Channel. In a television news report, a charity food bank representative said, "The problem with forcing legislation is that they would then have to give everything to us, and quite often we would get food that isn't necessarily fit for consumption. We'd rather work with them and have them understand the benefits of donating food."

France's economy is—as one might imagine—nothing to write home about. Its unemployment rate is currently twice that of the United States and it's actually rising slightly, not falling. It's telling that when Demrabarsh sees the "reality" of starving and needy people within France, it apparently doesn't cause any sort of introspection of how the country's socialist, centrally planned domestic economic policies have contributed to the problem of not enough jobs.

While this is all being spun as assistance for the needy and an approach to dealing with some "food waste" crisis about which I'm possibly prepared to be called a "skeptic," in reality it's Venezuela-lite governance. Rather than dealing with its economic crisis, French politicians want to pawn the problem off and blame the private sector without even thinking about the unintended consequences of their proposed solution.

(Hat tip to Keep Food Legal's Baylen Linnekin.)

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  1. My first thought – if I were a grocer, I’d immediately reduce what I stocked to ensure I almost NEVER throw anything away. Which would mean….empty shelves, at times. Cause I’ll take unmet demand over having to fuck around giving away what I’d planned to throw away.

    But who could foresee this coming? Who, I ask?

    /Venezualan toilet paper market

    1. that or I would hold a party at the end of every night “selling” the goods to my employees and having a feast.

      1. This is also reasonable. Watch as markets drop prices as the closing hour nears; something akin to what you see in the US with discounts on day old bread and soon to expire packaged meats.

        1. What makes you think they don’t already have that? I’m sure they’ve already converged on a pretty efficient sol’n balancing understocking w overstocking, a version of what’s known as the Beer Problem.

          Now this comes along & upsets that arrangement. If the charities receiving food no longer have to do any of the work of finding suitable food to be disposed of, because the law puts the responsibility all on the seller, look for the charities to stop doing that part of the work. Of course it won’t be illegal for the charities to do that work, but they’ll no longer have the incentive to do so; they’d rather have it all done for them, on their terms. Conceivably they could even leverage their position so that stores would wind up paying them to take the food.

          Overall it raises the costs of handling perishables relative to other goods as well as absolutely. Look for the big stores to shift more of their biz to non-perishable items, & the price of perishable food to rise.

    2. The same thought occured to me. Will the newly imposed transaction costs of this program result in a decrease to the total amount of residual food available for charitable use?

      1. The same thought occured to me. Will the newly imposed transaction costs of this program result in a decrease to the total amount of residual food available for charitable use?

        Even worse, the artificially induced scarcity will likely drive up prices, which will make some people on the margins more likely to be unable to afford food.

        Only a socialist could dream up an idea for feeding the hungry that actually creates more hungry people.

        1. You think the goal is actually feeding the hungry?

    3. According to France, you can just make the supermarkets handle the logistics and the problem will be solved.

      I’d also be passing along all those “logistics” costs to the customer, so my prices would go waaay up.

      Oh, but high grocery store prices to cover bureaucratic fuckery can’t possibly be responsible for making more people “food-insecure,” can it?

  2. France’s economy is?as one might imagine?nothing to write home about. Its unemployment rate is currently twice that of the United States and it’s actually rising slightly, not falling.

    Unpossible! Central planning always works! Just ask the North Koreans!

  3. Why does Shackelford hate poor people?

    1. They’re poor French. Everybody hates the French. Being poor French is just collateral damage.

      1. Fry: So who should I root for? America or one of those countries I learned about at the food court?

        Amy: How ’bout those guys?

        [On the track some people dressed in stripy jerseys and French berets and carrying loaves of long bread wave to the crowd.]

        Leela: No, they’re from the Republic of French Stereotypes. Everybody hates them.

  4. But there’s more: The supermarkets have to do all the work.

    As governments become more and more strapped for money even considering the astounding amount they steal already, expect this “outsourcing” of expenses for the things government wants to do to only increase. They already make an unaffordable law enforcement regime possible when it comes to policing people’s bank accounts by forcing the banks to shoulder the costs. This law here forces the supermarkets to shoulder the costs.

    It’s just another form of theft/taxation. They will never, ever stop. Because it’s never enough.

  5. Elect socialists and you get (horrible) socialist policies.

  6. France. Another alleged sophisticated shit hole.

    Wait. What’s the DOJ equivalent in Frunce?

    I love how they say ‘do it at your expense and shut the fuck up’. Typical.

    1. don’t forget “or else!”

      1. …With a slice of cantaloupe and camembert (pronounced camem-burt) of course.

        Did someone say Camembert…as in Earl Camembert?

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1G6pmIrTfc

  7. Don’t you love government? there is no problem just one more law can’t solve.

  8. Oh, Good Lord. The Stupid burns.

    I volunteer every other Friday at a private non-profit soup kitchen. All of our food stuff is donated from area grocery stores (Kings, Whole Food, Shop Rite and Trader Joe’s). We began to get more food stuff than we needed and began giving it to other kitchens. We added a Friday afternoon produce pick-up – locals stop by and get a free bag of veggies and fruits. It works really well; our meals are excellent and plentiful, but I’m sure the Feds could improve on all that /sarcasm.

    The French are bananas, and I mean that in an insulting way.

    1. The French are overripe bleached bananas, and I mean that in an insulting way.

      FIFY

    2. When you say that they are bananas, is that an oblique threat against persons of French descent in that bananas are harvested by being severed from the stalk using a sharp blade?

    3. Simple. If there’s overstock by that point you will be mandated to eat it.

      Because they’re geniuses these people.

    4. “I volunteer every other Friday at a private non-profit soup kitchen. All of our food stuff is donated from area grocery stores (Kings, Whole Food, Shop Rite and Trader Joe’s). We began to get more food stuff than we needed and began giving it to other kitchens.”

      I worked at a food pantry and the people who ran it actually got mad that a local Jewel started donating food because they had too much food to give away and it was all going to spoil anyway.

      Also:

      “The logistics of the law must also not put an unfair burden on charities, with the unsold food given to them in a way that is ready to use, a parliamentary report has stipulated. It must not be up to charities to have to sift through the waste to set aside squashed fruit or food that had gone off.”

      This is moronic. It’s the charity’s actual job to deal with this sort of thing. Why shouldn’t it be the duty of the actual charity to make sure food is ready to be given away rather than the supermarket which isn’t in the charity business?

  9. “Donating[…]”

    “Stealing” isn’t spelled the way you did it.

    1. He’s using the native FrenchStatist lingo.

      1. Of course!
        Tony is over on one of the O-care threads explaining how the Rethugs are responsible for that POS, while Jack is also on one of them explaining how Rethugs have to offer an alternative and O-care is really working well besides!
        It’s a topsy-tervy day!

  10. They eat snails and cheese that’s riddled with mold. Honestly, how much food at the end of the day could they have to throw away?

      1. Ah fuck, that wasn’t supposed to be a reply. Well, it works.

        1. Someone needs to add a laugh track to that.

          1. Are you talking shit on my boo Julia? I will fucking shank you Kraft-eating ass.

            1. Never ate Kraft in my life.

              Try another processed food.

              1. SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU LEBATT DRINKING FRENCH ICE MONKEY

                1. Julia Child is a………..don’t make me say it!

  11. Shorter French government: Fuck you voil? pourquoi!

  12. And what of French wines that have past their peak vintage?

    1. They’re only good for cleaning plumbing.

  13. So I’m guessing the plan is:

    1. Impose absurd regulatory burden on grocery stores

    2. Incentivize reducing stock since it’ll be cheaper for stores to have empty shelves than go through the hassle of donating the food

    3. Use empty stores shelves as an example of capitalist market failure

    4. Usurp even more power for the state because now there’s a problem that needs fixin’

    1. Ding ding ding!

      And with the rich continuing to abandon France, this will get worse. I’m kind of surprised that France hasn’t enacted US-style “we own you, you keep paying taxes even if you don’t live here anymore” laws. Dunno if they’re restricted by the EU from doing that or not.

    2. Unfortunately, Francs are no longer available for ass-wiping.

    3. 2.a. Increase the cost of doing business for food stores who will have to increase prices to cover increased costs, creating more people who cannot afford food, leading to stricter donation policies for the food stores who will have to increase prices to cover increased costs………..

    4. France +10 years = Argentina

      From the article, the French politician says he doesn’t care about the percentages. Yeah, that’s what I like in a pol – a complete disregard for numeracy – nothing new in that, I guess.

      Perhaps he’s been smoking a lot of pot?

      1. I literally saw a progressive say on twitter the other day that objectivity is a tool of the white man and that by teaching objective truth rather than acknowledging subjectivity based on racial background, your playing into colonialist white hands.

        This is why we’re fucked. Politicians don’t care about numbers and black progressives are arguing that it’s a good thing to teach young, black children that there is no such thing as objective facts. It’s like a new anti-intellectual dark age or something and it’s being brought about by the very people claiming to be our intellectual superiors.

        1. I read an Elinor Burkett essay in the NYT this morning about the smackdown between trannies (yes, I know they don’t like that name, and I don’t give a shit) and feminists because trannies don’t like it when feminists say something is for women, like “services for women” or “women’s rights.” It’s “using exclusionary language” to have something called a “women’s clinic” or “women’s event, ” or even to show that awful Eve Ensler “Vagina Monologues” garbage play on college campuses, because it supposedly denigrates people who want to have vaginas but can’t afford to have them installed. FFS.

          They can’t seem to make this eternally-butthurt victim-cult bullshit up fast enough.

          Our job is to make sure, best we can, that styling yourself as a professional victim doesn’t pay, especially from our pockets; and if you want to pay your rent and eat, you’ve got to grow up and get a real job.

        2. I think it’s easy to overestimate the effect of this, but I agree that the anti-Enlightenment thinking that you see from “intellectuals” is frightening. I understand if capitalism and liberal property rights are not well liked, but people are rebelling against Enlightenment staples like innocent until proven guilty, the burden of proof, universal justice over group rights and exceptions, and the primacy of objective facts and logic over superstition and emotion. It’s astonishing.

  14. But I thought leftover poutine couldn’t be reheated??

  15. And if it’s not fit for humans, it’s to be sent out for animal feed.

    Mon Dieu! Why do the French hate animals? WHY?!

  16. Meanwhile, France’s neighbors are having their own problems……

    “Binge-drinking British tourists say they will defy a crackdown on drunkenness and debauchery in the Spanish resort of Magaluf insisting they will not let police stop them getting “f_____g mortal”.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new…..chery.html

  17. “Sacre bleu, I cannot imagine why our unemployment rate is so high. Mandatory pensions at age 62, three years and four months of paid maternity leave, minimum 25 vacation days, government healthcare sucking about 12% of GDP, low-performing employees can’t be fired, mandated 35-hour workweek, government forced by unions to replace retiring employees…mon Dieu, I just don’t understand why no one is hiring!!”

  18. Gosh, this sounds like such a good idea, we should force restaurants, hotels, and even residents do the same!

  19. Let them eat stale cake

  20. Did the French government ever consider just asking nicely?

    1. That’s not the way it works, Sally.

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