• Friday, April 12, 2024
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Households waste 1bn meals daily in 2022 – UN report

Prices of food and medicine

….783 million people were hungry

Households globally threw away one billion meals daily in 2022, with 783 million people affected by hunger in the same year, a new study by the United Nations shows.

In the Food Waste Index Report published recently, the UN said households and businesses wasted more than one trillion dollars’ worth of food worldwide.

According to the study, food waste generates an average of nine percent of global greenhouse emissions, taking up about 30 percent of the world’s agricultural space.

“In 2022, the world wasted 1.05 billion tonnes of food. This amounts to 19 percent of food available to consumers being wasted, at the retail, food service, and household level,” the report said.

“That is in addition to the 13 percent of the world’s food lost in the supply chain, as estimated by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, from post-harvest up to and excluding retail,” the report stated.

However, 60 percent of food waste was generated from households (631 million tonnes), with the food and retail sectors contributing 290 and 131 million tonnes, respectively.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation estimated that between 691 and 783 million people in the world faced hunger in 2022, contributed by food waste.

The report released just days before the International Day of Zero Waste, marks the UN commitment to halve food waste by 2030, in line with SDG target 12.3 – cutting in half global food waste at the retail and consumer level and reducing food losses along production and supply chains including post-harvest losses by 2030.

The report noted that hotter countries generate more food waste partly due to a lack of proper storage hinged on extreme heat and droughts, and the inability to process and transport foods safely.

While Brazil contributed 30 percent of edible global food waste, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom contributed 34 percent, 54 percent, 33 percent, 49 percent, 77 percent, and 71 percent, respectively.

Africa, Nigeria included, generated more food waste from its urban communities compared to rural communities, due to the consumption of more processed foods by residents of urban areas.

“Middle-income countries display variations between urban and rural populations, with rural areas generally wasting less. Possible explanations include greater diversion of food scraps to pets, animal feed, and home composting in rural areas,” the report said.

“The report recommends focusing efforts to strengthen food waste reduction and circularity in cities,” it added.

The report emphasised that only four out of 19 G20 countries (Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States) and the European Union have food waste estimates suitable for
tracking progress to 2030.

Japan and the UK were two countries that declined their food waste in 2022 by 18 and 24 percent, respectively.

The Food Waste Index report urged other countries to follow steps in addressing food waste, an issue that not only pollutes the environment but also affects climate change.

“Food waste must be addressed at both individual and systemic levels, including targeted efforts in urban areas and international collaboration among countries and across supply chains,” the international report added.

The Food Waste Index tracks the global and national generation of food and inedible parts wasted at the retail and consumer (household and food service) levels. The United Nations Environment Programme is its custodian. In contrast to the Food Loss Index, the Food Waste Index measures the total fresh mass of food waste (rather than specific commodities).

Food loss is defined as all the crop and livestock human-edible commodity quantities that, directly or indirectly, completely exit the post-harvest chain by being discarded, incinerated, or otherwise, and do not reenter any other utilisation (such as animal feed, industrial use, up to, and excluding the retail level.