Using data collected primarily by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, a team of UK-based scientists have calculated the true extent of global food waste.
According to a new study from the Universities of York and Edinburgh, almost half of harvested crops – or 2.1 billion tonnes – are lost through over-consumption, consumer waste and inefficiencies in production processes.
The study says almost 20% of the food made available to consumers is lost through over-eating or waste, the global population consumes approximately 10% more food than it needs, while 9% spoils and is thrown away.
The scientists investigated 10 key stages in the world’s food system including food consumption, increasing crop productions, higher yields and larger harvests.
Using the FAO’s data to quantify the extend of the loses, they discovered more food is lost from the system than previously thought.
“This study highlights that food security can only be sustainably achieved through holistic approaches because consumer behaviours, as well as the actions of food producers and processors, all influence the sustainability of the food system,” says professor Dominic Moran, of The York Management School and Department of Environment, University of York.
“To date, much of the focus has been overly dominated by improving production efficiency.”
The study is published in the journal Agricultural Systems.
It was carried out in collaboration with Scotland’s Rural College, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research and funded through a Global Food Security Programme supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council and the Scottish Government.