Food : Too Precious For The Bin (Food Waste and World hunger)

People love food – not only to get enough of the energy our bodies need, but also because it’s often a social event; we celebrate with food and it’s simply delicious. So it’s quite a surprise that one-third of the food in the world doesn’t make it to our plates. That amounts to an incredible 1.3 billion tons of food! This amount of food could feed around 3 billion people each year. That exceeds the number of all the hungry people worldwide by nearly 4 times!

Can you guess what we waste the most?

Globally, 35% of harvested fish and seafood is wasted. Did you know that global fish-stocks are already overfished? That means that we are taking too many fish too quickly from the oceans and they are not able to reproduce fast enough.

Globally, 30% of produced cereals are wasted. The most produced cereals are corn, wheat and rice. Wheat and rice are the most consumed crops by humans in the world, as corn is used mainly as animal feed. Wheat in particular is found in an enormous range of foods, from bread to noodles, crackers and biscuits.

Reducing food loss and waste

Hunger is on the rise: yet, an estimated 1/3 of all food produced globally is lost or goes to waste. We all have a part to play in reducing food loss and waste, not only for the sake of the food but for the resources that go into it. FAO(Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) is partnering with governments, international organizations, the private sector and the civil society to raise awareness on the issues and to implement actions to address the root of the problem. FAO is also working with governments to develop policies to reduce food loss and waste.

What is food loss and food waste?

To provide more clarity on the subject and to measure progress towards SDG(Sustainable Development Goals) , FAO’s estimate is in the process of being replaced by two separate indices:the Food Loss Index(FLI) and the Food Waste Index(FWI)

The FLI, prepared by FAO, provides new loss estimates from post-harvest up to, but not including, the retail stage.

The FWI, for which estimates calculated by UN Environment are forthcoming, will provide global estimates on the food wasted at the retail and consumption levels.

Food is wasted in many ways:

  • Fresh produce that deviates from what is considered optimal, for example in terms of shape, size and color, is often removed from the supply chain during sorting operations.
  • Foods that are close to, at or beyond the “best-before” date are often discarded by retailers and consumers.
  • Large quantities of wholesome edible food are often unused or left over and discarded from household kitchens and eating establishments.
  • Less food loss and waste would lead to more efficient land use and better water resource management with positive impacts on climate change and livelihoods.

Bringing people together to reduce food loss and waste

Everyone has a part to play in reducing food loss and waste. FAO accordingly works with a broad spectrum of stakeholders and partners to tackle the problem. This is done through education, particularly focusing on providing information on safe food handling, proper food storage in households and understanding “best before” dates in order to prevent and reduce food waste.

Reducing food loss and waste is critical to creating a Zero Hunger world and reaching the world’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 2 (End Hunger) and SDG 12 (Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns).

For many people on the planet, food is a given. But for the staggering more than 820 million people who are hungry, food is not a guarantee. FAO aims to increase respect for food, as well as for the farmers who produce it, the natural resources that go into producing it and the people who go without it.

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