One of the key challenges for agriculture is solving a global food security. There are around 800 million people who are hungry at the moment. A world population is going to reach 9 billion by 2050 (currently 7 billion) and we need to find a way how to feed all the people and how to enable everybody access to the food. On the other hand, there is another issue called “food waste” which has become serious in our society in the last years and affects poor and rich countries equally. Food we throw away could satiate the hunger in the world!
First of all we need to distinguish between food waste and food loss. Food waste refers to food products that do reach final product stage and are fit for human consumption and to proceed in food supply chain but for all kind of reasons are being thrown away intentionaly in comparison with food loss which never reaches final stage and is thrown away unintentionaly.
According to FAO (Food Agricultural Organization) one third of all the food the world produces is lost or wasted, which amounts 1,3 billion tons per year. In industrial countries around half of this quantity is the result of food wasted by consumers and retailers. In developing countries it is less than 5 %. It doesn’t mean only an economic loss but also all the natural resources such as land, water, energy and inputs used for production are also wasted. Moreover, a wasted food has a big impact on climate changes because of emitting greenhouse gases. We really need to deal with that! In the future there will be more people but fewer resources so we cannot afford to throw food away.
Actually, why do we waste food?
In this picture we can see in which stages food loss and food waste occur. Food loss is influenced by climate and environmental factors, pests, diseases or lack of processing facilities. Food waste already starts in the manufacturing sector through overproduction, packaging damage or misshapen products such as a wrong size or shape. In the retail sector it is caused by marketing standards and strategies or deterioration of products. In the households common reasons are that we have bought or prepared much or we have forgotten to use it on time. I read that in high-income countries food is even thrown away when it’s still suitable for human consumption. I think we take a food for granted because it looks like the food is everywhere so if it looks, smells or tastes bad we don’t have remorse if we throw it away. But we don’t realize that we do harm our planet as well as us humans.
What can we do with that?
For example, food producers can invest in better harvest and storage technology to avoid from loss. Food not fit for human consumption shoud be reused to feed animals. Consumers should think twice when they go shopping and buy only what they need, store it correctly, recycle leftovers and request smaller portions in restaurants as well. Last but not least, we need to work together because this problem is so huge that we are not able to solve it alone. It’s very important to raise public awareness of food waste and loss and also bring this issue to attention of policy makers because they can do something with that.
So let’s achieve together that all the natural resources used to produce food will end up as meals not as a garbage!
Thank you for reading 🙂