Food is precious and requires a great amount of resources. Can we afford to throw away one-third of it?
One-third of all the food produced in the world, 1.3 billion tons, is wasted each year. In addition to the nutritional value in food, we are also throwing away food’s hidden resources – water, soil nutrients, fertiliser, fuel, energy and the human labour expended during the growing and processing of food. In foods such as meat and dairy products, more hidden resources are thrown away than in fruits and vegetables, which are wasted the most.
When food is discarded, it means that all of the greenhouse gases emitted in their production were pointlessly released. Moreover, dumping or burning uneaten food produces additional greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, making the impact on climate change even more intense.
A total of 6-11 kg of food iper persons thrown away each year in developing countries. In developed countries, this figure skyrockets to 95-115 kg per person. Food losses in developing countries typically occur in the phase of cultivation and storage of crops, whereas food waste in developed countries is mainly the result of consumer behaviour.
In a world in which one out of nine people lacks sufficient access to food, the consequences of food waste have the greatest impact on people from developing countries. But in reality, our management of food impacts not only the self-sufficiency of countries facing hunger today, but all of the people in the world in the future.