Briefing 4: Food Waste and Pig Feed

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APPG on Agroecology Briefing: Feeding Food Waste to Pigs



  • Food waste is an environmental, social and economic disaster. While more than enough food is produced globally to feed the world’s population, millions still go hungry. Ever more intensive farming practices are proposed to solve the problem instead of a clear focus on reducing the amount of food waste at all stages of the supply chain.
  • It is essential to find the best ways to deal with any food waste that is produced. Organic waste can be used for energy, livestock feed or returned  to the land as fertiliser.
  • Feed can represent 60% or more of the cost of production for pig farmers.  Some ingredients for livestock feed are grown in environmentally sensitive regions, resulting in, for example, the loss of large areas of South American rainforest. This is environmentally unsustainable; moreover  rises in the cost of feed are making it economically unsustainable for UK farmers.
  • Feeding food waste to pigs has been done for thousands of years, including in Britain until 2001 when it was severely curtailed due to the ban on feeding catering waste to pigs, which followed the foot and mouth outbreak. In Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and the USA, catering waste is still fed to pigs, using high-tech systems which  safely convert it into feed.
  • The spread of notifiable diseases is exacerbated by the large herd size and increased animal transportation levels associated with modern industrial pig farming. Less intensive (agroecological) production would help minimise the risk of disease spread.

The APPG on Agroecology calls for:

1. Further research into the relative environmental and economic costs and benefits of different types of pig feed and different ways of dealing with waste.

2. Research into the systems used in Japan, South Korea and the USA to convert catering waste into pig feed,  and in particular the biosecurity of such systems.

3. Increased transparency across both the feed and waste systems, including clearer labelling on commercial pig feed to allow farmers to assess the environmental costs of different feed types.

The benefits of feeding catering waste to pigs may mitigate the costs required in terms of infrastructure and enforcement of a modern system to collect and sterilise the waste.

Read the full briefing at the bottom of this page