President Xi Jinping’s launches campaign against food waste amid pandemic and historic flooding

China has stepped up measures to reduce food waste, after President Xi Jinping launched a “Clean Plate Campaign” to fight food waste, calling it “shocking and distressing.”

“It is necessary to further enhance public awareness of the issue, effectively cultivate thrifty habits and foster a social environment where waste is shameful and thriftiness is applaudable,” Xi reportedly said.

The Communist Party raised additional concerns about its food security in July by making the largest purchase of American corn in its history, 1.76 million tons of the crop. Reports indicated China also bought 129,000 tons of American soybeans and 320,000 tons of U.S. wheat.

The campaign comes amid mass flooding across southern China that has left farms wrecked and ruined tons of produce. Floods have destroyed tons of farmland causing an economic loss of nearly US$ 1.5 billion.

“Floods this year have caused damage to 6 million hectares of crops in China, including 1.1 million hectares of complete crop failure, mainly located in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and the Huaihe River,” according to the deputy head of the ministry, Zhou Xuewen.

Chinese state news agency the Global Times sought to downplay what it called “media hype” that China was headed for a food crisis, made worse by the epidemic.

State TV criticised live streamers who filmed themselves eating large amounts of food.

Following Mr Xi’s message, the Wuhan Catering Industry Association urged restaurants in the city to limit the number of dishes served to diners – implementing a system where groups must order one dish less than the number of diners.

According to WWF China, around 17 to 18 million tonnes of food went to waste in China in 2015.