“Reducing Food Loss and Waste,” a working paper published by the World Resources Institute in 2013, reports that “24 percent of all food calories grown today are lost or wasted between the farm and the fork.” The paper elaborates that “food is lost and wasted to a varying extent across the globe, across all stages of the food value chain, and across all types of food.”
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Global Food Wastage Key Facts
According to FAO:
- The global volume of food wastage is estimated at 1.6 billion tonnes* of “primary product equivalents.” Total food wastage for the edible part of this amounts to 1.3 billion tonnes*;
- Food wastage’s carbon footprint is estimated at 3.3 billion tonnes* of CO2 equivalent of greenhouse gass released into the atmosphere per year;
- The total volume of water used each year to produce food that is lost or wasted (some 98 miles3) is equivalent to the annual flow of Russia’s Volga River, or three times the volume of Lake Geneva;
- Similarly, approximately 3.5 billion acres of land—28 percent of the world’s agricultural area—is used annually to produce food that is lost or wasted;
- Agriculture is responsible for a majority of threats to at-risk plant and animal species tracked by the International Union for Conservation of Nature;
- A low percentage of all food wastage is composted: much of it ends up in landfills, and represents a large part of municipal solid waste. Methane emissions from landfills represents one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions from the waste sector;
- Home composting can potentially divert up to about 330.7 pounds of food waste per household per year from local collection authorities;
- Developing countries suffer more food losses during agricultural production, while in middle- and high-income regions, food waste at the retail and consumer level tends to be higher; and
- The direct economic consequences of food wastage (excluding fish and seafood) run to the tune of $750 billion annually.
* One tonne equals 2,204.623 pounds.