A staggering twenty million tons of food is thrown out as waste each year in Britain, with the national financial cost reaching more than £20 billion. Around 16 million tons of this is wasted in homes, shops, restaurants, hotels and food manufacturing, with the remainder thought to be destroyed between farm and shop.
Consumers are the biggest culprits, throwing away one-third of their food purchases according to the government’s Waste & Resources Action Program. The National Consumer Council will launch a campaign this spring to highlight supermarket promotions that increase the problem through promotions that encourage over-consumption, such as buy-one-get-one-free.
Lord Haskins, a former government adviser on rural affairs and chairman of Northern Foods, said on Sunday that tackling Britain’s annual food waste would be good for environmental conservation and would help to meet the requirements for feeding an expanding global population in the face of unprecedented food shortages.
‘Estimates that the world’s population will rise by 30 per cent over the next 50 years to around 8.5 billion have raised fears of a global food shortage too big for farmers to meet,’ Lord Haskins said. ‘If consumers ate a bit less and wasted a bit less you’d help to solve the problem. If the world was vegetarian then you’d solve the problem completely.’
The United Nation’s World Food Program has also commented that it may have to ration food aid in response to rocketing global food prices – soaring by more than 75 per cent since the low prices of 2000, and jumping by more than a fifth in 2007 alone.
Tony Lowe, the CEO of national food charity FareShare, commented: ‘Unfortunately, we live in a world where many people do not have access to food in general, and good-quality food specifically, while at the same time millions of tons of perfectly fine food are being disposed of. In the UK alone, the extent of food poverty is staggering, as millions of people with low or no income find it harder to access affordable, nutritious food.’