17% of total food available to consumers globally goes to waste despite millions facing hunger – UN

GLOBAL – Food wastage is still a problem globally with an estimated 931 million metric tons of food, or 17 percent of total food available to consumers in 2019 going into waste bins.

This is according to the recently UN Food Index Report 2021 conducted to support global efforts to halve food waste by 2030.

The UN report finds that in nearly every country that has measured food waste, the issue was “substantial,” regardless of income level.

Households are the major culprits when it comes to waste, discarding 11% of the total food available at the supply chain’s consumption stage.

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Foodservice and retail outlets were the other major culprits accounting for  5 percent and 2 percent of total waste, respectively.

On a global per capita-level, 121 kilograms of consumer-level food is wasted each year, with 74 kilograms of this happening in households.

The report is creating concern among stakeholders given that the world is currently working to at least halve food waste by 2030.

When food is wasted, it has a substantial environmental, social and economic impact.

 “With only nine years to go, we will not achieve SDG 12 Target 3 if we do not significantly increase investment in tackling food waste in the home globally.”

Marcus Gover, CEO of WRAP

For example, while climate action is still lagging, 8 to 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food not consumed when losses before consumer level are taken into account.

“Reducing food waste would cut greenhouse gas emissions, slow the destruction of nature through land conversion and pollution, enhance the availability of food and thus reduce hunger and save money at a time of global recession,” says Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP.

It is further saddening, outrageous even to report such an enormous loss when it is estimated that 690 million people affected by hunger in 2019 and a further three billion people reported to be unable to afford a healthy diet.

The Food Waste Index Report by the UN is thus a wakeup call for all nations particularly now when we are just 9 years away from the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal target.

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 “With only nine years to go, we will not achieve SDG 12 Target 3 if we do not significantly increase investment in tackling food waste in the home globally,” said Marcus Gover, CEO of WRAP.

“This must be a priority for governments, international organizations, businesses and philanthropic foundations.”

In his concluding remarks, Inger Andersen said: “If we want to get serious about tackling climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste, businesses, governments and citizens around the world have to do their part to reduce food waste.

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