It's time to end food waste
Agriculture is the world’s most globalized industry. A large share of food travels thousands of kilometers, is handled by hand, by complex machinery, treated with extreme care, packed, cleaned, shipped, displayed - and then?
And then about 30% of this extremely complex product gets thrown away. Almost a third of food produced worldwide is never eaten, leading to an estimated 1.3 billion tons of food waste each year. This includes around 45 percent of all fruit and vegetables and 20 percent of meat.
By calculations of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a family of four in the United States will throw away more than $2,000 worth of food a year. Every third apple, orange, walnut does not end up on our plate but in the garbage or in a landfill. Of this waste, over half (54 percent) is lost in upstream processes, including agricultural production and post-harvest handling. The other 46 percent is wasted in processing, distribution and consumption.
Why do we throw away food?
Food waste is a ‘modern’ problem: Only 70 years ago the notion of throwing away food was nearly unthinkable. Every part of meat would end up as nutrition – fresh, in a soup, in salads, canned, preserved, or processed. The final leftovers were used for other purposes such as packaging, clothing, and heating. Compost was the last resort. Some
people even argue that food waste was intentionally ‘created’ by the supply chain to sell more produce, fertilizers, pesticides, seeds and machinery.
Food waste does not add to our quality of life or well-being.
We need food, but we do not need food waste.
How and where do we waste food?
- Food is wasted during production and harvesting:
Not applying the right seeds, irrigation, pruning, fertigation, crop protection leads to immense losses. A lot of agricultural products are not harvested, harvested too early or too late.
- Food is wasted in the post-harvest process:
Food is lost because of improper treatment after harvesting, incorrect storage, sorting and packaging.
- Food is wasted in during transport:
A lot of food gets dumped because of wrong labeling, transport failures, incorrect orders or simply by neglect.
- Food is wasted on the retail level:
Retailers and caterers are throwing away raw materials and processed food in large scales.
- Food is wasted during consumption:
How much food do you discard from your fridge every week?
The losses amount to millions of tons every year.
The good news:
The good news: People are finally taking notice. And there are lots of solutions on the horizon, from smart harvesting to auctioning leftovers in your fridge. Entrepreneurs are developing extremely creative ways in this ‘war’ against food waste.
- Reducing food waste makes the food industry more sustainable.
- Reducing food waste will be essential to feed a growing world population.
- Reducing food waste can improve margins of growers, processors, shippers, traders and the retail community
As global leader in food sorting and peeling technology we try to be very vocal about food waste, addressing the problem and offering solutions to improve the supply chain.
You can now download the publication ‘It’s time to end food waste'.