Roughly one-third of the food produced for human consumption gets lost or wasted globally. Whereas developing countries suffer more losses during agricultural production, due to problems such as poor post-harvest management, lack of suitable infrastructure and inadequate processing and packaging, in developed countries the majority of waste occurs at the retail and consumer level.
Food waste is not simply an ethical and economic issue; it also has a significant impact on the environment and natural resources. Luckily the issue is now becoming an increasing concern for the media, politicians, supermarkets and consumers.
Taking a look at these figures, it’s clear to see why…
1. Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (UNEP).
2. 1.4 billion hectares of land – 28% of the world’s agricultural area – is used annually to produce food that is lost or wasted (FAO).
3. Knowing that their contracts with supermarkets require near-perfect-looking fruit, farmers often overproduce in order to meet expectations, wasting what they don’t sell (Take Part).
4. Bread is one of the most commonly wasted foods. According to a 2014 Guardian article, a whopping 24 million slices of bread get thrown in home bins every day in the UK.
5. In October of 2012, Forbes.com reported that close to 50% of all fruits and vegetables in the European Union go to waste.
6. The total volume of water used each year to produce food that is lost or wasted (250km3) is equivalent to three times the volume of Lake Geneva (FAO).
7. Home composting can potentially divert up to 150 kg of food waste per household per year from local collection authorities (FAO).
8. Food waste is responsible for around 7% of all greenhouse gas emissions globally (Waste and Resources Action Programme).
9. Almost 1 billion people are hungry worldwide. On the other hand around 1.5 billion people in the whole world are overweight and 400 million are obese (Say No to Food Waste).
10. You are not helpless. Each of us can do something every day to fight food waste. Find out what here!
Pictured: Vegetables saved for a Disco Soup organized by Slow Food Youth Network Israel