Some food is also lost on farms and in supply chains, indicating that overall a third of food is never eaten, with households discarding 11 per cent of food at the consumption stage of the supply chain, while food services and retail outlets waste five and two per cent, respectively.
Food waste, pictured here at Lira market in Uganda, is a significant challenge for farmers and vendors alike.
Countries need to embrace
innovation to reduce food waste, utilizing new packaging that can prolong the
shelf-life of foods, apps that can bring consumers closer to producers and,
reduce the time between harvest and the plate.
This, according to the Food and the Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO), will reduce the amount of food that’s wasted
resulting in a lack of food, hunger and malnutrition across the country. Records
show that more than 930 million tonnes of food sold in 2019 ended up in waste
bins, yet millions of people still face food and nutrition insecurity.
Some food is also lost on farms
and in supply chains, indicating that overall a third of food is never eaten,
with households discarding 11 per cent of food at the consumption stage of the
supply chain, while food services and retail outlets waste five and two per
The problem of food waste is a
global one and not limited to wealthy nations alone, said Nancy Aburto, Deputy
Director of FAO’s Food and Nutrition Division Economic and Social Development
Stream. Her message comes in commemoration of the International Day of
Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, which is marked today.
“Food insecurity, hunger and
malnutrition are impacting every country in the world and no country is
unaffected; 811 million people suffer hunger, two billion suffer micronutrient
deficiencies – that’s vitamin and mineral deficiencies - and millions of
children suffer stunting and wasting, deadly forms of under-nutrition.”
The FAO official says that reducing
food loss and waste would improve agri-food systems and help towards achieving
food security, food safety and food quality, all while delivering on
nutritional outcomes. According to FAO, it would also contribute significantly
to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as pressure on land and
However, this requires national
and local authorities along with businesses and individuals to prioritize
actions in this direction and contribute to restoring and improving agri-food
The Food Waste Index Report 2021 `produced
early this year by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) indicated that although
food waste had been thought of as a problem mostly affecting rich countries,
the report found levels of waste were surprisingly similar in all nations,
though data is scarce in the poorest countries.
Against that backdrop and with
COVID-19 threatening to exacerbate these numbers, officials are urging consumers
not to waste food at home. They are also pushing for food waste to be included
in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), plans through which countries commit
to increasingly ambitious climate actions in the Paris Agreement.