Half of all food thrown away, report claims


In this photo taken Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, a man walks past a sign advertising a happy hour at a restaurant on Second Street in San Francisco. Up to half of all the food produced in the world—two billion tons of it—is thrown away, according to a report published on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. AP PHOTO/ERIC RISBERG

LONDON—Up to half of all the food produced in the world—two billion tons of it—is thrown away, according to a report published on Thursday.

The waste is caused by poor infrastructure and storage facilities in the developing world, and “buy-one-get-one-free” offers, and the fussiness of consumers in the developed world, the report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers said.

Every year, four billion tons of food is produced, but between 30 percent and 50 percent is never consumed, according to the report entitled “Global Food; Waste Not, Want Not.”

One of the worst offenders is Britain, where as much as 30 percent of vegetables are not harvested because they are misshapen and supermarkets will not sell them.

The report also suggests that half of the food that is bought in Europe and the United States is thrown away by consumers.

Dr Tim Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “The amount of food wasted and lost around the world is staggering.

“This is food that could be used to feed the world’s growing population—as well as those in hunger today.

“It is also an unnecessary waste of the land, water and energy resources that were used in the production, processing and distribution of this food.

“The reasons for this situation range from poor engineering and agricultural practices, inadequate transport and storage infrastructure through to supermarkets demanding cosmetically perfect foodstuffs and encouraging consumers to overbuy through buy-one-get-one free offers.”

The report also found that 550 billion cubic metres of water is wasted globally in growing crops that were never eaten.

The institution said the demand for water production could reach between 10 trillion and 13 trillion cubic meters a year by 2050.

Fox said: “The UN projects that the global population will swell to 9.5 billion by 2075, meaning there will be three billion more people to feed.

“As water, land and energy resources come under increasing pressure from competing human demands, engineers have a crucial role to play in preventing food loss and waste by developing more efficient ways of growing, transporting and storing foods.

“But in order for this to happen governments, development agencies and organizations like the UN must work together to help change people’s mindsets on waste and discourage wasteful practices by farmers, food producers, supermarkets and consumers.”

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  • innit1

    This is very true. I work in the bakery in one of the largest supermarket chain in Britain and we dispose thousand of pounds worth of bakery products everyday not mentioning fresh food disposals from leaking milk to out of date ready meals and all other food items. Customers are very fussy in developed world like Britain and they do not want to buy slightly burnt bread or broken french sticks(baguette). Even damaged packaging of dry goods such as nail clipper are disposed because customers do not want to buy items with damaged packaging. And it is here wher I often hear people say “the food is disgusting”. These fussy customers should be thrown to poor countries where clean water is not even available for drinking and people actually die of hunger to teach them that food must never be wasted. This is just not right at all. Somehow supermarkets are partly to blame.

  • Karabkatab

    If we only adhere to the old and tested saying “GROW what you EAT and EAT what you GROW”, then this world will be a bit happier place to live.  If we cannot follow per see the motto, then at least “COOK what you EAT and EAT what you COOK” will do.  Don’t rely too much on those fast food products.  They are not healthy and they are the main cause of wasted food.

  • Olibo

    We eat to live not  live to eat. 

  • opinyonlangpo

    In some coun tries, yeah they waste a lot. Unfortunately or rather fortunately, Philippines is not one of them.

  • Klepto

    Hindi kasali Pilipinas diyan. Marami sa Pilipinas sa basurahan nga nangunguha ng pagkain. Except kay Enrile, ang dami niyang pera, milyon milyon ang ipinamimigay nya. Sa dami ng kanyang pera, pwede niya bibilhin ang isang grocery store at itapon lahat ng paninda.

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