Simple actions by consumers and food retailers can dramatically cut the 1.3 billion tonnes of food lost or wasted each year. Think.Eat.Save. – a new campaign launched today by FAO and the United Nations Environment Programme – aims to cut food waste worldwide and help shape a sustainable future.
Wasted food also means wasted energy, land, water and lost opportunities to improve lives. Learn more about ways to reduce your foodprint.
With the world’s population projected to top 9 billion by 2050, we need to look at ways not only to increase food production, but to make better use of the food we produce by reducing loss and waste.
This week, the Food for 9 Billion project explores the two faces of food waste. A pair of stories that aired on American Public Media’s Marketplace looked at food waste in Senegal and California.
Around 1.3 billion tonnes of food – roughly one third of the food produced for human consumption every year - is lost or wasted, according to a study released last year by FAO and the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology. A recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council puts food waste in the United States at 40 percent – more than 20 pounds of food per person every month going uneaten.
In developing countries, most food losses occur during post-harvest, processing, transportion and storage, while in industrialized countries food waste happens at the end of the chain, in retail and consumption, when food that is still perfectly edible is thrown away.
Reducing food waste and loss could increase food availability without increasing production and with less impact on the environment.
Agriculture is by far the biggest user of water resources – accounting for 70 percent of all water withdrawals worldwide. So it’s no surprise that global water experts convening the week in Stockholm for World Water Week called for prompt action to curb food waste worldwide.
Taste the Waste of Water, a new film launched today in Stockholm by German filmmaker Valentin Thurn, highlights the issue of food and water waste. Watch the trailer:
This week, the Global Foodbanking Network is hosting its sixth annual Leadership Institute in San Antonio, Texas. The goal of these events is to build the capacity of food banks around the world and increase their impacts by providing the practical knowledge, tools and resources to jumpstart food bank development. Organized in a three-track curriculum, the Leadership Institute is offering guidance on the fundamentals of forming an organization and starting a food bank, scaling up operations and implementing best practices to enhance operations and increase impact. Nancy Morgan, Senior Economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization and liaison to the World Bank, will deliver the keynote address, Missing Food: The Case of Food Waste and Loss, on Thursday March.
Approximately one-third of all food globally is lost or wasted. According to an FAO report last year, developing countries face the greatest losses at the post-harvest and processing levels, while consumers and retailers are the biggest food wasters in industrialized nations. In fact, an article on Grist estimates that the average American family of four discards between $135-175 in spoiled or uneaten food per month. The article notes that fresh vegetables comprise the majority of the food wasted. The good news is that this waste can be reduced through increased awareness and behavior change. A fact sheet recently produced by the Natural Resources Defense Council provides suggestions on how to reduce waste and the associated monetary losses.
The food sector accounts for around 30 percent of global energy consumption and produces over 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new FAO report released today at the climate talks in Durban, South Africa.
The report, Energy-Smart Food for People and Climate, outlines opportunities to increase food systems efficiency by reducing fossil fuel use, and by reducing losses and waste throughout the food chain. It also highlights the tremendous potential for agriculture to produce more of the energy needed to feed the planet and spur rural development.
Watch a video with FAO’s Peter Holmgren to learn more about the links between energy, agriculture and food.
According to a recent FAO-World Bank study, investing in post-harvest technologies to reduce food losses could significantly increase the food supply in sub-Saharan Africa, where grain losses prior to processing range from 10 to 20 percent of total production.
FAO Economist Nancy Morgan, currently on loan to the World Bank, participated in a workshop in Accra, Ghana, earlier this month where experts from around the region discussed new ways to tackle this old problem.
In a recent blog post, Nancy notes that many of the challenges she first saw when she began her career nearly 30 years ago continue to plague rural Africa, but that much has also changed.
While the issue of post-harvest losses is not new, what is new are higher prices for agricultural products which provide incentives for change and investment, new entry points into how we apply what we know, and innovative ways of engaging with the people who matter, in particular, the women who are struggling to feed their families in rural Africa.
Nancy discusses some of the technologies that exist and why investing in post-harvest technology is a triple-win for global food security: