Half the world’s food is wasted, a report from the UK Institution of Mechanical Engineers says.
. . . the waste was being caused by poor storage, strict sell-by dates, bulk offers and consumer fussiness.
The study also found that up to 30% of vegetables in the UK were not harvested because of their physical appearance.
The institution’s Dr Tim Fox said the level of waste was “staggering”.
The report found that between 30% and 50% of the four billion tonnes of food produced around the world each year went to waste.
It suggested that half the food bought in Europe and the US was thrown away.
Dr 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 – Global Food; Waste Not, Want Not – also found that huge amounts of water, totalling 550 billion cubic metres, were being used to grow crops that were never eaten. . .
I was brought up with the mantra waste not, want not.
Those were the days when most people grew most of their own fruit and vegetables, groceries were delivered once a week and very little was thrown out.
Now fewer people have gardens and many who live in cities go to the supermarket or deli every day. Living in the country means I’m not in town that often but it would be rare not to have at least three trips to the supermarket a week.
That makes it far too easy to buy something fresher and ignore older produce until it’s beyond redemption.
Before we left home on Christmas Eve I delved into the far reaches of the fridge and discovered some relics which were well past palatable and probably no longer healthy.
When we came home I did a serious pantry clean-out.
Lurking on the high shelves and in dark corners were jars and packets well past their use-by dates.
I take a reasonably liberal approach to such things. If it looks and smells okay chutney or jam a few months past its prime doesn’t worry me. But if something has stayed on the shelf for years after it ought to have been consumed the best place for it is the compost bin.
However, I am sure that only a very small proportion of the food that comes into my kitchen goes out again as waste.
The report mentions waste in production and retail. Could part of the huge amount of food wasted be caused by an increase in dining-out?
It must be very difficult for restaurants to gauge how much food to prepare and once a lot of food has been prepped it has to be eaten or binned. But no business would survive if it was chucking out half its food.
However, if you take into account waste in production, transport and processing as well as spoilage it isn’t hard to accept that around half the food produced is wasted.
Although that it happens when so many people don’t have enough to eat is shameful.