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Abstract

Across Asia, rapid growth of mega cities is driving change in retail outlets and consumer purchasing. Mega city economies are increasing the purchasing power of millions of people, creating the middle class of Asia. Many Asian consumers are internationally educated and are adopting the food habits of western consumers. Increasingly, shelf-ready packaged meats, cheese and imported fruit and vegetables are now purchased from supermarkets rather than local wet markets. In the past, most of Asian food wastage occurred post-harvest, during distribution to wet markets. Congested mega cities have limited cold storage systems and most food continues to be transported in nonrefrigerated trucks. Travel times have increased along congested roads and much imported and local food has lost its freshness long before it reaches the consumer. This results in very short shelf life and increased waste. The systemic failures across food distribution and waste management systems are resulting in mega waste. Unsorted waste, from the ‘last mile’ (distribution centre to consumption), ends up in open landfills on the edges of cities. The challenge is immense. This and the next four presentations explore some of the technology and policy drivers that can help us to understand the problem, including creating energy from waste, and helping consumers make informed choices.

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