14 August 2015 – food waste – what’s happening?

Cutting food waste by a quarter would mean enough food for everyone, says the United Nations – this is the headline for an article by Kate Lyons in the Guardian, published  on 12 August. This points out how ‘each year 1.3bn tonnes of food, about a third of all that is produced, is wasted, including about 45% of all fruit and vegetables, 35% of fish and seafood, 30% of cereals, 20% of dairy products and 20% of meat. Meanwhile, 795 million people suffer from severe hunger and malnutrition.

And another new study on food waste by D. Vanham and colleagues was also published this week by the Joint Research Centre at the European Commission. One of the main findings of this study (based on data from 6 EU countries) was that the average EU consumer wastes 16% of food – averaged for all EU citizens, this translates into 47 million tonnes of avoidable food waste annually – much of which could be avoided.

Food waste is happening in countries where people can afford to throw food away.  There are some positive changes as a result of growing consumer awareness and the Guardian article points out that the amount of avoidable food waste produced by UK households decreased by 21% between 2007-12. This blog also covered how France is making it illegal for large supermarkets to throw away edible food as part of a series of measures to cut down on waste (see 23 May).  However, as Dr David Moon, head of food sustainability at Wrap UK says “for every 2 tonnes of food and drink consumed in the home, there’s another tonne of food going to waste at some point in the chain – whether that’s production, retail or manufacturing.

Food waste remains one of the greatest challenges we face to achieving food security for all.

You can read the Guardian article here

You can read the EC’s JRC report here

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