According to the UN, 870 million people across the globe remain chronically underfed, yet nearly half of the world’s food supply is wasted every year. Of the 4 billion tons of food produced annually, between 1.2 and 2 billion tons are lost, though the causes of waste vary between rich, poor and intermediate countries. According to a new report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London, the most profligate and avoidable waste occurs in the most well-off nations, like the US and UK. Supersized portions, all-you-can-eat restaurants, conservative sell-by dates in supermarkets and two-for-one deals on perishable foods are major causes of food waste, says the report.
What’s the Big Idea?
Another massive waste occurs because of Western consumers’ aversion to oddly shaped vegetables, resulting in as much as 30% of fruit and veg being rejected for sale by supermarkets. Beyond edibles being wasted, the energy and land lost to cultivating food that is eventually thrown away aggravates the global food crisis. “The potential to provide 60 to 100 per cent more food by simply eliminating losses, while simultaneously freeing up land, energy and water resources for other use, is an opportunity that should not be ignored,” concludes the report.