Food waste or food loss is food that is wasted, lost or uneaten. Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year ( approximately 1.3 billion tonnes ) gets lost or wasted. Food waste and food loss have different stages between the farm and when it arrives in your house or on your plate and is a bigger issue than most think.
Food loss and waste is getting a lot of attention lately, and for good reason. Statistics are alarming. While the world is producing 17% more food than it did 30 years ago, almost half of that never reaches consumers. This situation is even more worrying when we consider that the world is facing a severe food security crisis, intensified by climate change. More than the 815 million people in the world suffer from hunger.
The world’s population is predicted to reach 9.1 billion by 2050, and meeting that growing demand will require an increase of 70% in food availability. A significant part of this growth will take place in developing countries, where steadily increasing urban populations continue to create complex and lengthy food supply chains and present challenges in delivering safe, nutritious, high-quality food.
Wasted food has environmental, economic and social implications. When you waste food that could have been eaten, you are also wasting the natural and human resources that were used to grow, produce, process and transport that food.
Food losses and waste amounts to roughly US$ 680 billion in industrialized countries and US$ 310 billion in developing countries.
Industrialized and developing countries dissipate roughly the same quantities of food respectively 670 and 630 million tonnes.
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 35% for fish.
Wasted food that ends up in the garbage, and ultimately the landfill, produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. It’s estimated that 7% of greenhouse gases produced globally are due to preventable food waste. Food loss and waste accounts for about 4,4 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) per year. To put this in perspective, if food loss and waste were its own country, it would be the world’s third-largest GHG emitter, surpassed only by China and the United States.
It is worth noting that food waste and food loss directly relates to waste of money, time, energy, land, and many more resources.
What is food loss and waste?
Food loss and waste are defined as a decrease in the quantity or quality of edible food that is intended for human consumption.
Mainly caused by the malfunctioning of the food production and supply system, the term refers to food that is lost in the early stages of the supply chain, before it reaches consumers. These losses could be due to managerial and technical limitations in early stages of food supply chains, such as a lack of proper storage facilities, cold chain, proper food handling practices, infrastructure, packaging, or inefficient marketing systems.
This term refers to the removal from supply chains of food that is still good for human consumption. This is done either by choice or by out of safety requirements after the food is spoiled or expired due to poor stock management or neglect.