Of all food grown, approximately 40 percent remains uneaten. This is according to a new report from WWF and Tesco. This is an amount of 1.2 billion tons of food. As if that weren’t enough, another 931 million tons of food is thrown away in retail and consumption. This huge amount of uneaten food contributes 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
How much water and farmland will be used for discarded food?
WWF and Tesco published “Driven to Waste“, a new report that quantifies the total amount of food lost on farms globally. This is the first quantification of the total food loss on the farm since 2011. 4.4 million km2 of agricultural land and 760 km3 of water will be used to produce 1.2 billion tonnes of food that is lost unnecessarily. This corresponds to a land larger than the Indian subcontinent and the volume of water corresponds to 304 million Olympic swimming pools.
The loss of food on farms is not just a problem of poor regions
The report reverses the long-held belief that food loss on farms is a problem only in less affluent regions with lower levels of industrialization. The report shows that per capita losses per farm are generally higher in industrial areas, despite having agricultural machinery.
“We have known for years that food loss and waste is a huge problem that can be minimized, which in turn could reduce the impact of food systems on nature and climate. This report shows us the problem is likely bigger than we had thought,” said Pete Pearson, Global Food Loss and Waste Initiative Lead, WWF. “Over 50% of the food that goes uneaten is lost on farms, but this is not just an issue in developing regions. Driven to Waste shows us more food is lost on farms per capita in very advanced supply chains like the US and Europe. Food loss and waste, and on-farm food loss, is a global problem.”
An effective solution to the problem needs to be found
Efforts need to be made to reduce food waste. It is important to find out why losses are occurring and to make sure that the whole supply chain works more efficiently. Food is lost on farms for a variety of reasons, including controllable factors and human decisions.
“Driven to Waste makes it clear that providing access to technology and training on farms is not enough; decisions made further down the supply chain by business and governments have a significant impact on the levels of food lost or wasted on farms,” said Lilly Da Gama, Food Loss and Waste Program Manager at WWF-UK and one of the reports lead authors. “To achieve a meaningful reduction, national governments and market actors must take action to support farmers across the world and commit to halving food waste across all stages of the supply chain. Current policies are not ambitious enough.”