menu

Design & Architecture

1.3bn tonnes of food is lost or wasted each year, UN food agency report says, and reducing losses in developing countries could have 'immediate and significant' impact on poor people.

Dan Gould
  • 17 may 2011


Powered by Guardian.co.uk
This article titled “One-third of the world’s food goes to waste, says FAO” was written by Claire Provost, for guardian.co.uk on Thursday 12th May 2011 14.32 UTC

One-third of the world’s food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted each year, according to a study (pdf) released on Wednesday by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Roughly 1.3bn tonnes of food is either lost or wasted globally due to inefficiencies throughout the food supply chain, says the report, based on research by the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology (Sik). Amid rising global food prices, the study says that reducing food losses in developing countries could have an “immediate and significant” impact on livelihoods and food security in some of the world’s poorest countries.

According to the report, industrialised and developing countries waste or lose roughly the same amount of food each year – 670m and 630m tonnes respectively. But while rich countries waste food primarily at the level of the consumer, the main issue for developing countries is food lost due to weak infrastructure – including poor storage, processing and packaging facilities that lack the capacity to keep produce fresh. Food losses mean lost income for small farmers and higher prices for poor consumers in developing countries, says the study.

The average European or North American consumer wastes 95kg-115kg of food a year, above all fruits and vegetables. In contrast, the average consumer in sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia or south-east Asia wastes only 6kg-11kg. The study notes that in developing countries poverty and limited incomes make it unacceptable to waste food, and that poor consumers in low-income countries generally buy smaller amounts of food at a time.

Food wasted by consumers in rich countries (222m tonnes) is roughly equal to the entire food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230m tonnes).

Looking for solutions, the report argues that reducing reliance on retailers such as big supermarkets could help cut food waste in the north, and suggests promoting the direct sale of farm produce to consumers. It also encourages retailers and charities to work together, to distribute unsold but perfectly edible food that would otherwise go to waste.

For developing countries, the study says the key lies in strengthening food supply chains, urging investment in infrastructure and transportation, along with increased attention to food storage, processing and packaging.

While world food prices fell slightly in March this year – after eight months of successive increases – the overall cost of food in April was 36% higher than it was last year. Prices of wheat, maize and soya reached levels last seen in 2008, when a global food crisis sparked food riots across the developing world. Last month, the World Bank said that rising food prices had pushed 44 million more people into extreme poverty, and the World Bank president, Robert Zoellick, added that an additional 10 million people could soon fall below the .25 a day extreme poverty line unless immediate action was taken to increase the supply of food.

But the FAO-backed report says: “Food production must clearly increase significantly to meet the future demands of an increasing and more affluent world population … In a world with limited natural resources (land, water, energy, fertiliser), and where cost-effective solutions are to be found to produce enough safe and nutritious food for all, reducing food losses should not be a forgotten priority.”

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

Trending

Modular System Lets Musicians Create Their Own MIDI Controllers

Arts & Culture
Technology Today

This Collar Wants To Be The Bridge Between Human-Dog Communication

Inupathy claims to be world's first dog emotion visualizer

Travel Today

Bicycle Hotel In Norway Makes Commuting A Breeze

The energy efficient space was designed to help the city of Lillestrøm get closer to their environmental goals by encouraging people to ride their bike

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Retail Today

Basquiat-Inspired Fashion Line Supports Emerging Talent

The late artist's estate has collaborated with New York label alice+olivia on a new range of designs

Op-Ed Today

Why Personalization Is The Key To Customer Satisfaction

Andrew Blackmon of The Black Tux shares how the company is using machine-learning models to streamline the fitting process

Related Expert

Bjorn Jeffery

New Worlds Creator

Gaming & Play Today

Fidgeting Tools Designed To Help Creative Minds Focus

The DIDGETS Collection helps those who have anxiety or are restlessly moving to focus while they are working

Product Launch Today

Helpful Robot Teaches People Of All Ages How To Code

The Root has coding expertise designed to benefit a wide range of people

Home Today

Sharing Service Connects Directors With Film Locations

Finding affordable places to film can be difficult, so GETset was designed to help creators easily find good locations

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed Today

Commerce Expert: Why Brick-And-Mortar Shopping Can’t Be Replaced

Erin Armendinger, SVP of bio, explains the physical need of customers to experience certain products before buying

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Technology Today

Adobe Is Teaching Machines To Copy Your Artistic Style

A new research project called Stylit uses a camera to mimic a drawing and reproduce the strokes digitally

Automotive Yesterday

Mercedes Reveals Dazzle-Free LED Headlights

Digital Light offers great precision with a resolution of over two million pixels

Cities Yesterday

Nissan Is Testing A Digital Car Sharing Program In Europe

Nissan plans to launch their new service in Paris sometime this year to trial the profile-matching service

Social Media Yesterday

Your Favorite Tweets Are Now Wearable

This temporary tattoo allows fans to wear their most favorite moments from the social platform

Consumer Goods Yesterday

This Mirror Tracks Your Dark Circles And Fine Lines

HiMirror is a device snaps a photo of your face every day to provide feedback on how to care for your skin

PSFK EVENT

FUTURE OF RETAIL 2017:
Conference Built Around Report Launch
BUY TICKETS

Sustainability Yesterday

Biodegradable Furniture Made From Pine Needles Could Be The Next Phase Of Sustainable Living

Premiering at Dutch Design Week 2016, the collection fully utilizes an often wasted material

Innovation Yesterday

Creative Director: Navigating The New World Of Founder-Brands

Richard Smith, Creative Director at Sullivan, explains how visionaries like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg approach their branding and why it’s important to apply brand thinking to founders’ products

Syndicated Yesterday

Madrid's 'Robin Hood' Cafe Charge The Rich To Feed The Poor

The charity restaurant makes money from customers by day to offer homeless people meals at night

No search results found.