One-third of world’s food wasted each year — UN

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — One-third, or 30 percent, of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted every year even as more than 820 million people in the world to go hungry every day, according to the United Nations agriculture agency’s latest annual report.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published its annual State of Food and Agriculture report that contains fresh estimates on the scale of the problem, enabling a better understanding of the challenge and suggesting possible solutions by looking into why and where food loss and waste take place.

“How can we allow food to be thrown away when more than 820 million people in the world continue to go hungry every day?” asked FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu in the foreword to his agency’s report. 

The FAO makes a distinction between food losses, which occur at the stage when food is harvested up until the moment it is sold; and food waste, which occurs during the sale and consumption of food.

Although there may be an economic loss, food diverted to other economic uses, like animal feed, is not considered as food loss or waste, nor are the inedible parts of food products.

Food loss and waste occur at the farm, storage, transit, shop and home. Important causes of on-farm losses include inadequate harvesting time, climate conditions, practices applied at harvest and handling and challenges in marketing produce.

Significant losses are caused by inadequate storage, as well as decisions made at earlier stages of the supply chain that cause products to have a shorter shelf life.

Good infrastructure and efficient trade logistics are key to preventing food loss. Processing and packaging play a role in preserving foods, and losses are often caused by inadequate facilities, technical malfunction or human error.

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