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Global food wastage levels ‘disturbing’, says new report

Oct 29, 2013

About 30-50% of food production is wasted globally and India's losses in poor harvesting methods and inadequate storage and distribution contribute significantly to the waste.

New Delhi: The report on ‘Global Food; Waste Not, Want Not’ by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, one of the oldest professional institutions in UK cites lack of infrastructure for appropriate storage and logistics as one of the major factors contributing to the about 1.2 – 2 billion tonnes of food wasted in the world. The report also highlights that in developing countries wastage mainly occurs between the farm and the marketplace.

The announcement coincides with a visit to India by one of the authors of the report, Dr Tim Fox, who will be meeting senior Government officials from the Indian Ministry of Food Processing Industries, the National Centre for Cold Chain Development and the National Horticulture Board to discuss the findings of the study.

The Institution’s report sheds light on the wastage of around 20 million tonnes of wheat in India each year due to inadequate storage and distribution systems as well as the fact that up to 40% of the country’s fruit and vegetables production is lost between the farm and the consumer due to lack of cold storage, refrigerated transport and poor roads. Along with food wastage, the Institution also sheds light on the waste of associated resources needed to produce food which isn’t consumed, like energy, land and water.

Dr Tim Fox, Head of Energy and Environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said:

“The amount of food wasted and lost around the world is staggering. This is food that could be used to feed the world’s growing population – as well as the nearly one billion people in hunger today. It is also an unnecessary waste of land, water and energy resources that were used in the production, processing and distribution of this food. “With UN predictions that there could be about an extra three billion people to feed by the end of the century and an increasing pressure on the resources needed to produce food, including land, water and energy, the Institution is calling for urgent action to tackle this waste.

“The reasons for this situation range from poor engineering and agricultural practices, inadequate transport and storage infrastructure to supermarkets demanding cosmetically perfect foodstuffs and encouraging consumers to overbuy through sales promotion offers.”

“The recent announcement by the World Resources Institute of a new global standard for measuring food loss and waste is something the Institution has been calling for and a step in the right direction towards benchmarking, target setting and monitoring progress, but much more needs to be done.”

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers is calling on action to be taken by business, Governments and the general public to recognize the value of food, and work to cut needless food waste.

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