January 17, 2018

New Study Finds Half of Global Food Goes to Waste

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMECHE) has released a new study that concluded half of all global food goes to waste. One to two billion tons of all food produced on this planet is lost before reaching a human stomach, according to Dr. Tim Fox, Head of Energy and Environment for IMECHE.

Current estimates are that we are going to have 9.5 billion people on this planet by 2075; that could grow to more than 12 billion by 2100. And there will not be enough food to feed them if this waste continues. Factors accounting for this waste include poor practices in harvesting, storage, and transportation, market waste and consumer waste.

In third world and developing countries, the waste occurs mostly at the farmer-producer end of the supply chain. Inefficiencies in harvesting, poor transportation, and inadequate infrastructure cause most of the problems. Food loss moves up the supply chain as a country becomes more development.

In developed countries, supermarkets often reject crops because they do not meet standards for appearance. The report states that up to 30% of the UK’s vegetable crop is never harvested because of those standards. When the food does reach the market, consumers are often encouraged to buy too much food. Between 30% and 50% of what consumers buy is thrown away.

The study recommends that farmers must use land more effectively, water use must be more efficient, and developed nations must transfer engineering knowledge and technology to developing countries. Infrastructure and storage facilities must be updated and maintained, and consumer expectations should be modified to help prevent waste. You can do your part too, by freezing foods you do not use immediately, by purchasing foods carefully to reduce waste, and by shopping locally.

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