UK & World News
Half Of All Food Produced Is 'Thrown Away'
As much as half of all the food produced in the world - two billion tonnes worth - ends up being thrown away, a new report claims.
The waste is caused by poor infrastructure and storage facilities, over-strict sell-by dates, "get-one-free" offers, and consumer fussiness, according to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
Each year countries around the world produce some four billion tonnes of food.
But between 30% and 50% of this total, amounting to 1.2 to 2 billion tonnes, never gets eaten, says the report Global Food; Waste Not, Want Not.
In the UK, up to 30% of vegetable crops are not harvested because their physical appearance fails to meet the exacting demands of consumers.
Half the food purchased in Europe and the US is thrown away after it is bought, the report adds.
Vast quantities of water are also wasted in global food production, it is claimed.
Around 550 billion cubic metres of water is used to grow crops that never reach the consumer, according to the report.
Producing one kilogram of meat is also said to take 20 to 50 times more water than producing the same weight of vegetables.
The demand for water in food production could reach 10 to 13 trillion cubic metres a year by 2050, the institution said.
This is up to 3.5 times greater than the total amount of fresh water used by humans today, raising the spectre of dangerous water shortages.
Dr Tim Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: "The amount of food wasted and lost around the world is staggering.
"This is food that could be used to feed the world's growing population - as well as those in hunger today.
"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."
He blamed the situation on poor engineering and agricultural practices, inadequate transport and storage infrastructure, and supermarkets demanding cosmetically perfect foodstuffs and encouraging consumers to overbuy through buy-one-get-one free offers.
By 2075 the United Nations predicts that the world's population will reach around 9.5 billion, resulting in an extra three billion mouths to feed.
Added stresses on the ability of the world to feed itself include global warming and the growing popularity of meat, which requires around 10 times more resources than staple plant foods such as rice or potatoes.
Dr Fox called on governments, development agencies and organisations like the UN to "work together to help change people's mindsets on waste and discourage wasteful practices by farmers, food producers, supermarkets and consumers".
what do you think?
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There is nothing new about. This it's been going on going on for years I remember as a lad seeing bulldozers pushing hundreds of tons of tomatoes into the sea thats over forty years ago. They destroy food all the time if there is over production because it keeps the prices high. That's why we used to hear over butter mountains and wine lakes .
All the governments in the world could do a lot more to erradicate hunger. . . If they wanted to
Very true stevie, very true.
As depressing as it is knowing there are millions of starving children out there, there is an argument that unless these starving nation's people are also educated to reduce the number of children they have (when aid is provided so child mortality rates drop) the same situation will occur with the next generation. Only worse.. Dev Ad.
I work in a food factory and the wastage last week was 30 tons. This is shocking and unacceptable when some of the world's people are lucky to have one meal a day.
Eat by dates are designed to get sales up. Chuck it and buy some more they should be called. Sainsburys prices are so confusing that even their staff can't tell us what price an item is. Absolute crooks. One penguin 29 pence, value pack 10 for 3 pounds. Do they think we are thick.