Believe it or not, the way to eradicate hunger from the face of the Earth is as feasible as it is handy. In fact, the current loss and waste of one-third of all food produced for human consumption would be just enough to feed the nearly one billion people who go to bed hungry every single night.
Here, the figures are self-explanatory: As much as 1.3 billion tons per year of food is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial agricultural production down to final household consumption, according to the UN, Ipsnews reported.
Moreover, it is not just about losing or wasting food — it also implies a waste of resources used in production such as land, water, energy and inputs, increasing the greenhouse gas emissions.
“Up to one third of all food is spoiled or squandered before it is consumed by people. It is an excess in an age where almost a billion people go hungry,” added the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Food loss and food waste refer to the decrease of food in subsequent stages of the food supply chain intended for human consumption. Food is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial production down to final household consumption, explained FAO.
The decrease may be accidental or intentional, it added, but ultimately leads to less food available for all. Food that gets spilled or spoilt before it reaches its final product or retail stage is called food loss, it added. This may be due to problems in harvesting, storage, packing, transport, infrastructure or market price mechanisms, as well as institutional and legal frameworks.
Harvested bananas that fall off a truck, for instance, are considered food loss, according to FAO. Food that is fit for human consumption but is not consumed because it is or left to spoil or discarded by retailers or consumers is called food waste.
Key facts on food loss and waste you should know!
● Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted.
● Food losses and waste amounts to roughly $680 billion in industrialized countries and $310 billion in developing countries.
● Industrialized and developing countries dissipate roughly the same quantities of food — respectively 670 and 630 million tons.
● Fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers have the highest wastage rates of any food.
● Global quantitative food losses and waste per year are roughly 30 percent for cereals, 40-50 percent for root crops, fruits and vegetables, 20 percent for oil seeds, meat and dairy plus 35% for fish.
● Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million ton) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tons).
●The amount of food lost or wasted every year is equivalent to more than half of the world's annual cereals crop (2.3 billion tons in 2009/2010).
● Per capita waste by consumers is between 95-115 kg a year in Europe and North America, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-eastern Asia, each throw away only 6-11 kg a year.
This may be because of rigid or misunderstood date marking rules, improper storage, buying or cooking practices. A carton of brown-spotted bananas thrown away by a shop, for instance, is considered food waste, said the UN agency.
Significantly, the World Resources Institute (WRI) explains that food loss and waste occurs more ‘near the fork’ in developed regions and more ‘near the farm’ in developing regions.