— 28.11.2019

Key Facts of Food Loss and Waste // Do You Know How Much Food Is Wasted?

In the last 50 years, the world’s food production and consumption went under significant changes with increased industrialization, development of condensation technologies, food logistics capabilities and a considerable spike in demand symbolized by a fridge in every home. Coupled with increased consumption, the world’s food production also saw an exponential growth to meet the demand.

Roughly ⅓ of the food produced worldwide gets discarded,, which equals to 1.3 billion tons per year. Food lifecycles and discarding habits vary from country to country, depending on their development level.

In developed and developing countries, edible food tends to get discarded while in underdeveloped countries, due to a lack of logistics capabilities it gets perished before even reaching the consumer. Nevertheless, in such underdeveloped countries, consumers are more aware of resources scarcity and thus tend to create less waste in comparison to developed countries.

Everyone can do their part to prevent food loss and waste. Together the acts of these players can have a significant cumulative impact on creating a #zerowaste world.

 1- Measures that governments can take

Especially in underdeveloped or developing countries, the road infrastructure is insufficient.

Among other effects, the lack of a proper transportation network, disrupts food logistics and stunts production distribution. Faced with a deadline, as food is perishable, this setback costs producers time, energy and money. Governments can help their producers by investing in the proper infrastructure in relevant fields from energy to transport to enable timely, fresh, efficient country-wide distribution and minimize loss.

2- Measures that producers can take

An environment that fosters better communication among producers with the goal of supporting each other can help significantly reduce food waste at the production level.

Communal supply locations can be set up to provide distributors with fast and reliable access to all production from one location, which would greatly help the logistics and cut food loss during its transport.

Sometimes, producers short on money can harvest particular produces early which results in nutritionally low fruits and vegetables. Harvesting may also mean non-edible food which then turns into waste.

To help avoid this, producer unions should spare more resources to preventing food waste at a production level and producers need to be supported more by unions to reach this goal.

3- Measures that distributors such as supermarkets, vendors and logistics can take

Supermarkets could start reintroducing the consumer to real looking produce, that naturally isn’t perfect in shape or colour but is equally fresh and nourishing as visually aesthetic ones. Surveys show that consumers are also keen to start seeing more natural-looking produce (Stuart, T. 2009).

Another measure that can help curb food loss is storage innovation to maximise shelf life and reduce waste.

Some grocery chains have removed the “best before date” statements from certain produce aisle products. Supermarkets believe that this move will help them cut down on food waste substantially as the best before date doesn’t necessarily stands for when the food goes bad; it just means it isn’t in its best form. Other supermarket chains suppose through flash sales on dry food products past beyond their best date, such as rice and pasta, and pricing them as low as 10p.

They state that this can reduce 50.000 items of food waste. Brands that have applied this program say that food is still edible after the best before date and that it is about preventing food waste and not about money. 

Note: Use-by date is critical, as products with a passed use-by date, also known as expiration date, can’t be sold. Easily perishable items such as meat, fish, and poultry are hazardous to human health after their use-by date has passed. 

Best before date: Can be consumed after best before time has passed, all food starting with dry food still can be consumed after this date.

 

 

4- Measures that consumers can take

You can help cut down on the food waste caused by edible food being thrown out due to strict consumption deadlines set by supermarkets, by going straight to the producers or farmers markets for food sourcing.You can avoid the possibility of food waste at home by buying only as much as you need, making sure that you’re storing the food using the advised storage conditions and consuming it before it goes bad. You can create a collection space for your family members, guests or coworkers to gather and share leftovers or excess food for those in need.

 

Resources:

http://www.fao.org/3/mb060e/mb060e02.pdf

http://www.fao.org/3/mb060e/mb060e03.pdf

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/reduce-food-waste#section20

Stuart, T. 2009. Waste – uncovering the global food scandal. Penguin Books: London, ISBN: 978-0-141-03634-2

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