Oct. 7, 2021

Food Loss and Waste

President's Blog
Margaret Hudson
President, Burnbrae Farms
4th Generation Farmer

Reducing our environmental impact and supporting our communities has always been part of Burnbrae Farms’ ongoing commitment to sustainability. That’s why reducing food waste is so vital to our work.

Here’s a sobering statistic: Roughly 63 percent of the food that Canadians throw away could have been eaten. Much of this food could be redirected to support people in communities who are food insecure. Instead, the waste builds up in landfills and is a burden on our wallets: the average Canadian household wastes more than $1,100 worth of food per year ! And with the cost of groceries on the rise in Canada, it’s more important than ever to make changes.

Food waste happens beyond the home too: at grocery stores, restaurants, farms and by food manufacturers. Today I’ll share some insights as to how Burnbrae Farms is reducing food waste at our farms and manufacturing facilities, and I’ll add some tips as to how you can help at home, too.

What’s wasted?

According to Love Food Hate Waste Canada, the most prominently wasted foods by weight are:

- Vegetables: 30%
- Fruit: 15%
- Leftovers: 13%
- Bread and Bakery: 9%
- Dairy and Eggs: 7%

We’re happy that eggs are low on the list and do not account for a lot of food waste. Truth is, a lot of the waste from eggs is due to the shells, but we have a helpful at-home solution: Repurpose eggs shells by using them in your garden! Egg shells make great fertilizer, since they contain nutrients that are essential for plant growth, including calcium and magnesium. How to : Rinse shells, then microwave for two minutes to kill pathogens. Let shells dry, then grind in a blender. Add the egg shells powder to soil in your garden or in house plants, and watch them flourish.

Other ways you can reduce food waste at home are to use the most perishable groceries first; repurpose leftovers into next-day meals; make a grocery list based on what you need by checking what you already have; and store foods correctly to maintain freshness. Find more clever ideas here .

Creating opportunity and reducing waste

In 2020, Burnbrae Farms’ national waste diversion was over 80 percent, and we have a target for zero waste to landfill by 2025.

Because egg farmers work together through Canada’s system of supply management, we produce only what the market requires and have the tools to adjust to changing conditions. This coordinated approach to egg production allows us to work with our downstream partners to increase efficiency and redirect surplus eggs to new markets, thus reducing waste.

We’ve also designed our farm to reduce waste. An egg laid on the floor often becomes waste, so our eggs are collected on belts. We literally train chickens to lay their eggs in the nest which flows onto the belt, which brings the egg to the front of the barn for collection.

We’re also creative about reducing waste. Here’s a fun example: Our Naturegg Simply Eggs Whites products began with an idea to repurpose the whites that were not being used for food service applications. Many manufacturers were using egg yolks only in products such as baked goods and mayonnaise. So, we provided the yolks but didn’t waste the whites, and a new product was born out of necessity!

Since chickens lay more than just large eggs – there’s also pee wee, jumbo, medium and small – we need uses for all sizes of eggs. Eggs that don’t go to the grocery stores will divert to our “breaking plants” to be used in liquid eggs and other processed products that require eggs.

Eggshells are diverted from landfills to be used in animal feed and compost. Also, we’ve partnered with a coffee brand called Blackstar Cowboy Coffee Company who use our eggshells to help neutralize the acid naturally found in coffee. As well, we make ongoing egg donations across the country to various food banks. In 2020, Burnbrae donated nearly 4 million eggs.

Finally at Burnbrae Farms, manure is not a waste product. Instead, it is viewed as an asset that is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – all of the nutrients needed to grow great crops. Our farms all have nutrient management programs to ensure proper handling of manure and we work with agronomists who provide manure sampling services that profile the nutrients found in the manure. The manure is sold to farmers as fertilizer for their fields.

We’re doing our part to reduce food waste, and we hope you are doing your part at home, too!

Margaret Hudson,

President & CEO, Burnbrae Farms