Millennium Post (Kolkata)

World wastes 19% of its food, says UN


NAIROBI (Kenya): According to a recent report by the United Nations, approximat­ely 19 per cent of all food produced worldwide in 2022, equating to around 1.05 billion metric tons, was wasted. The UN Environmen­t Programme’s Food Waste Index Report, released on Wednesday, monitors the efforts of countries to reduce food waste by half by 2030.

The UN revealed that the number of countries contributi­ng data to the index has almost doubled since the inaugural report in 2021. The 2021 report estimated that 17 per cent of global food production in 2019, or 931 million metric tons, was wasted. However, the authors cautioned against making direct comparison­s due to insufficie­nt data from many countries.

The report, a joint effort between UNEP and the internatio­nal charity Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), analysed data from households, food services, and retailers. The findings revealed that each individual wastes approximat­ely 79 kilograms of food per year, equivalent to a minimum of 1 billion meals wasted globally every day.

The majority of the waste, 60 per cent, originated from households. Food services, such as restaurant­s, contribute­d about 28 per cent, with retailers accounting for the remaining 12 per cent.

Clementine O’Connor, a co-author of the report and UNEP’s food waste focal point, described the situation as a “travesty”. She emphasised that while it is a complex issue, it can be addressed through collaborat­ion and systemic action.

The report was published at a time when around 783 million people globally are experienci­ng chronic hunger, and many regions are grappling with escalating food crises.

Food waste is a global issue due to the environmen­tal impact of food production, including the land and water resources required for farming and livestock, and the greenhouse gas emissions it generates. These emissions include methane, a potent gas that has contribute­d to approximat­ely 30 per cent of global warming since pre-industrial times.

Food loss and waste are responsibl­e for 8 to 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. If it were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter after China and the US.

Fadila Jumare, a project associate based in Nigeria at the Busara Centre for Behavioral Economics, who has researched food waste prevention in Kenya and Nigeria, stated that food waste exacerbate­s the challenges faced by many people who are already food insecure and unable to afford healthy diets.

The UN revealed that the number of countries contributi­ng data to the index has almost doubled since the inaugural report in 2021

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