Nearly half of world’s food wasted, report says

World Vision’s work to promote sustainable agriculture practices includes teaching techniques to prevent food waste.

By Chris Huber, World Vision U.S.
Published January 25, 2013 at 12:00am PST

Up to half of all food produced in the world never reaches a human stomach, according to a recent report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

A campaign to reduce the food waste trend

Between 1.3 billion and 2.2 billion tons of food are wasted each year due to lost harvests, inefficient storage practices, and retail and consumer food waste.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization launched a campaign this month to reduce food loss and waste along the entire chain of food production and consumption.

The “Think. Eat. Save. Reduce Your Foodprint” campaign calls on anyone who eats food — including food producers and businesses — to improve lives of those going hungry by helping to reverse the trend of food waste.

“In a world of 7 billion people, set to grow to 9 billion by 2050, wasting food makes no sense — economically, environmentally, and ethically,” says Achim Steiner, UN undersecretary general and UN environment program executive director.

Reducing food loss to achieve a hunger-free world

In 2008, the estimated total value of food loss at the retail and consumer levels in the United States, as purchased at retail prices, was $165.6 billion.

The food currently lost or wasted in Latin America per year could feed 300 million people.

In industrialized regions, almost half of the total food squandered, more than 330 million tons, happens when farmers, supermarkets, restaurants, and consumers discard perfectly edible food.

That amounts to more than the total net food production of sub-Saharan Africa. It would be sufficient to feed the estimated 870 million people hungry in the world.

“If we can help food producers to reduce losses through better harvesting, processing, storage, transport, and marketing methods, and combine this with profound and lasting changes in the way people consume food, then we can have a healthier and hunger-free world,” says Jose Graziano da Silva, FAO director general.

Preventing food waste in developing countries

In a world where half of all food is wasted, an estimated 870 million suffer from hunger.

World Vision works in developing countries to promote sustainable agricultural practices, which includes teaching techniques to prevent food waste.

To assist famers in rural communities, we provide training on improved post-harvest storage and processing techniques; help facilitate the purchase of locally adapted seeds and tools; help farmers gain access to markets to sell their surplus; and promote techniques to sustainably manage natural resources.

To complement their farming and marketing activities, World Vision provides rural families with training on nutrition and health. This is particularly aimed at pregnant and lactating mothers and children under age 5 who are most vulnerable to the long-term effects of malnutrition.

How you can help

Check out these practical tips to reduce food waste .

Pray about how you can be a better steward of food and reduce waste. Pray for children and families who struggle each day to find nutritious meals.

Make a one-time gift to help provide farmers with tools, seeds, and training. Your donation will help provide farming families with tools like hoes, harvesting equipment, fertilizer, and irrigation kits, as well as training in improved farming methods and drought-resistant seeds.