Image in courtesy of Granma.cu
A world with a growing population is inevitably accompanied by a world in need of more food. As a result, nations will likely see a greater amount of food waste being produced since a surplus of food will be produced to feed the projected 9 billion humans by 2050. It is important to recognize how much food is wasted globally as this problem is projected to worsen in our future. Global food waste poses great threats to our environments and to communities across the globe who have to live amongst the waste. This waste is not only an issue for the developed world who produces the most, but also for the developing nations because they are the ones who are burdened with a majority of the developed nations waste when it is transported or floats across seas to the lesser developed world. In order to begin taking action for global food waste, we must first examine its causes and formulate who is at fault and what can be done currently and in the future.
In 2011 the Save Food Congress published a study which defined the many causes of global food losses and waste. In summary, they found that the causes for food losses in low income countries were due to the following:
- Poor storage facilities
- Poor infrastructure and transportation, lack of refrigeration
- Inadequate market facilities
- Poor packaging
Following this data, they also reported the causes of food waste in relation to high income countries:
- Quality standards (aesthetic defects)
- Manufacturing (trimming scraps, transportation losses)
- Poor environmental conditions during market display
- Lack of planning while cooking – limited focus on waste
- Best-before-dates and Use-by-dates
As we can tell by this information, problems associated with low income countries are mainly due to lack of resources such as the ability to refrigerate, adequately pack, or properly distribute. In contrast, developed countries do not seem to have these same issues, or at least not as severely since they acquire much more access to necessary resources. What we find in more developed nations is a lack of conscientiousness when it comes to food waste and standards that lead to wasting food because we expect our food to look and taste the highest quality possible.
In terms of national food waste, it is disappointing to find that North American alone wastes 30-40% of our food (Food Waste: The Facts). Even more alarming is the fact that as a nation, we are attempting to move towards more environmentally friendly practices with organic products, yet the same authors found that organic waste if the second highest component of landfills (2015). With the U.S. alone wasting so much food and placing it in landfills, we are causing detrimental effects to our environments by simply acting careless and being naïve to the effects we produce from wasting food that could have gone to use.
Photo in courtesy of Word Resources Institute
The causes of this issue are crucial in understanding what can be done about global food losses and waste. First and foremost, education seems to be the leading step in creating action across the world, especially in developing nations (Save Food Congress). In low income countries it is necessary to expand the developed world’s resources to aid in packaging and storage so that food losses lessen overtime. In developed nations, there is a need for improved purchase and consumption planning, education, improved communication within supply chains, and consumer power (Save Food Congress). With this knowledge, I find that the world can start moving in the right direction in terms of how we can start to solve global food waste. If our world is to help improve our environment through lessening food waste, awareness must be provided and action must be taken.