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Research

Our research is shaping the approach to reduce food waste and feed people here in Canada and around the world.

11.2 million

Tonnes of good food that is wasted every year in Canada

$49.46 billion

Worth of food is wasted

6.7 million

Canadians use non-profit food services every year

Building knowledge in Canada and around the world


At Second Harvest, we recognize that we can’t change what we don’t know. For us, knowing means conducting research about food loss and waste and our food landscape in Canada. By understanding where and how food is wasted, as well as where it is used across the supply chain, we are better equipped to manage this food.  

Our research has garnered the attention of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Government of Canada, and other like-minded groups. It has been shared by nationally and internationally respected news outlets including Forbes, Courrier International, the Globe and Mail, the National Post, CBC, CTV and more.  

We’re proud to share our research with the world, so that everyone can leverage the information we’ve gained to make effective, lasting change.

Peaches in warehouse

Canada Needs a New Year’s Resolution for Food Insecurity

It’s a new year, but there is no resolution in sight for Canada’s food insecurity problem. Second Harvest surveyed more than 1,300 non-profit organizations in December 2022 to understand how the need for food charity is likely to change in the coming year.

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Wasted Opportunity

Wasted Opportunity: Rescuing Surplus Food in a Throwaway Culture

Featuring ground-breaking research into Canada’s food system, Wasted Opportunity explores what types of food, from where, end up in landfill and seeks to explain why so much of this surplus edible food is not being rescued. The report proposes solutions for business and policy makers to turn this edible food waste into opportunity for everyone involved. We learned that 3.2 million tonnes of surplus edible food is produced by Canada's food industry each year, and 96% of surplus edible food is not rescued and redistributed for human consumption.

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Canada’s Invisible Food Network 

Canada’s Invisible Food Network

Canada’s Invisible Food Network is a Canadian research first. It addresses an urgent question: we need to know who is helping to provide food for the millions of Canadians struggling with food insecurity. And the findings are shocking: there are four times more charitable food providers than grocery stores in Canada. This is a massive but unconnected patchwork of services trying to support 6.7 million Canadians while they themselves are still reeling from the impact of the pandemic on the charitable sector.

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The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste

The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste

The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste is Canada’s first national research study on food waste and the first in the world to use primary data from the food industry. With this research, we were able to determine how much food is lost and wasted and where this waste is happening. We learned that nearly 60% of food produced in Canada – totalling 35.5 million tonnes – is lost and wasted annually. Of that waste, 32% – or 11.2 million tonnes – is avoidable and could be redirected to support people in our communities.

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Person sorting through boxes of produce.

Hungry for Change

Second Harvest surveyed more than 1,400 non-profit organizations and food programs across Canada in December 2023 and found that our support systems are buckling under the pressure. More than one-third of Canadian food charities are forced to turn people away, adding their names to growing waitlists while bracing for new demand in 2024.

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Data drives decision-making

At Second Harvest, we rely on accurate data to help us make informed decisions in everything we do. In addition to our ground-breaking research, we leverage data to measure our impact. We’ve developed a unique greenhouse gas calculator to determine the environmental impact of the food we rescue. Our dollar value calculator puts a financial value on this rescued food. And our annual surveys and ongoing analytics reflect our data-driven approach to reporting.

You can learn more about our calculators below.