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Half Of The World's Food Goes To Waste, Says U.K. Report

The Institute of Mechanical Engineers claims that almost two and a quarter billion tons of food are lost through production, transportation, and consumer fussiness.

Shocking statistics from the U.K.'s Institution of Mechanical Engineers show that half of the world's food is being wasted. Poor storage, strict sell-by dates, buy-one-get-one-free offers, and fussiness on the part of consumers (translation: no one wants to eat a carrot which resembles a male appendage) are mooted as part of the problem.

Of the four billion tons of food produced worldwide each year, between 30% and 50% are wasted, a figure described by Dr. Tim Fox, head of the British body's energy and environment, as "staggering: "This is food that could be used to feed the world's growing population—as well as those in hunger today. It is an unnecessary waste of the land, water, and energy resources that were used in the production, processing, and distribution of this food." The report reveals that around 550 billion cubic meters of water are used to produce crops that are never eaten.

The finger is being pointed equally at farmers, producers, supermarkets, and consumers. Are governments, development agencies, and world organizations (yes, you in the blue tabard over there advocating GM food, United Nations) in a position to truly change the situation?

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  • SWVB

    Yesterday, I read about energy wasted during power generation and distribution. Hence, some organizations are developing what is known as the Smart Grid. However, it may take around at least 10 years to implement it. 

    Today, it is the same problem, but in the food industry. I think sometimes the stakeholders need to record this data about waste and production efficiency so that we can all work towards a more efficient approach in production and distribution. However, I'm afraid those organizations with the efficiency advantage may be reluctant to share their methods in their management.

    This is indeed a big problem and I hope Fast Co can dedicate a section of their publications towards addressing these big issues whether it is in the food industry or the power and energy industry.

  • OrmarM

    When in doubt food is tossed out in the food prep buisness.Companies have gone bankrupt over contaminated food.Sandwich machine operators use to give the older food away to the needy until someone got sick and they were sued.No good deed goes unpunished.

  • Lisa M Cara

    And the consumer pays a higher price to cover the waste-there is little about "for profit' that has anything to do with human decency, compassion, or care.  The ones raking in the profit only see numbers-they have purposefully removed the human from being seen; so they do not feel like the vultures they are.