Food waste: Disturbing findings by The Global Initiative on Food Losses and Waste Reduction

Over the last few days foodwaste was an issue in the media again – every so often we all appear shocked when confronted with the facts but it seems the situation is not improving; while in one corner of the world people stuff themselves and waste perfectly fine food, in others parents are wondering every single evening whether their children will eat the next day.

The SAVE FOOD: Global Initiative on Food Losses and Waste Reduction has just presented its latest key findings regarding this paradox situation:small_recycle.gif

  • approximately 1.3 billion tonnes – about 1/3 of all food produced – gets lost or wasted.
  • Food losses and waste amounts to roughly US$ 1000 billion in industrialized countries and developing countries combined
  • Especially fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables are prone to wastage
  • Global quantitative food losses and waste per year are roughly 30% for cereals, 40-50% for root crops, fruits and vegetables, 20% for oil seeds, meat and dairy plus 30% for fish
  • Consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa every year
  • Every person in Europe and North America wastes between 95-115 kg of food a year; consumers in sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-eastern Asia, each throw away only 6-11 kg a year
  • Once food arrives at retail level, food is often wasted due to an over-emphasis on appearance
  • Just  1/4 of the food currently lost and wasted globally would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world

Another current UK report – Global Food; Waste Not, Want Not – suggests that half the food bought in Europe and the US is thrown away. “It is also an unnecessary waste of the land, water and energy resources that were used in the production, processing and distribution of this food.” says Dr Tim Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.small_flower.gif

To really take in those staggering facts CNN has prepared a good infographic visualizing the chain from field to fork to landfill. It shows where waste occurs and could be a first step towards reducing the amount of wasted resources.  But at the end of the day, it’s down to us as consumers too: If we keep insisting on a large selection of fresh products all day year around and won’t consider making more sustainable choices businesses won’t change their ways. Here are some tips about what you can do as a consumer. It’s time for a new appreciation for the fuel that keeps our bodies going and a global effort to distribute our rich output more evenly and fairly.

Think about this next time you throw away goods from your fridge!

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