Currently, there are 7.5 billion people in the world. Of them, 1 in 4 suffers from malnutrition. The world’s population is predicted to continue growing and is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. We need to reduce food waste to ensure that the world’s current and future populations can be fed.
There is enough food produced on farms to feed over 10 billion people, which is more than the world’s population. Although we produce enough food to feed everyone, not all of it is eaten. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that one-third of all food is wasted each year. Instead of focussing on producing more food, we should focus on reducing food waste, to make sure everyone has enough.
The FAO reports that $4 billion worth of food is lost in Africa every year. So, reducing food waste also has economic benefits.
Reducing food waste is also beneficial for the environment. Lots of food waste is buried underground in landfill sites. Here, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases are bad for the environment as they absorb heat energy and contribute to global warming. So, reducing our food waste can also reduce our contribution to global warming.
HOW CAN WE REDUCE FOOD WASTE?
One solution to reducing food waste is to improve packaging. For example, one packaging solution being widely promoted is the International Rice Research Institute Super Bag. When this bag is sealed, oxygen levels are greatly reduced from 1 in 5 to 1 in 20. This is beneficial because insects need oxygen to survive, so it reduces insect contamination and less food is wasted.
In addition to improving food packaging, food waste can be reduced by improving storage and transportation conditions. Some reports estimate that of all perishable food produced in the world, only 10% is refrigerated. It is important to improve transport conditions, as, in many developing countries, this is the stage where most food is lost.
Many developed countries employ a ‘cold-chain’ which ensures that food is transported sustainably. A ‘cold-chain’ involves controlling temperatures applied throughout the supply chain. This ensures that food stays fresh. This means that less food will be wasted during the transportation stage.
Enough food is produced to feed the world’s population yet many still go hungry. The issue is especially pressing in Africa, where about 220 million people are undernourished. It is therefore important to reduce food waste, to ensure everyone in the world has enough food to survive while minimising damage to the environment.