Saturday, April 20, 2024

Despite widespread hunger, world wastes over one billion meals daily: UN Report

The report said food waste continued to hurt the global economy and fuel climate change, nature loss, and pollution.

• March 27, 2024
Hungry children used to illustrate the story
Hungry children used to illustrate the story

Households across all continents wasted over one billion meals a day in 2022, while 783 million people were affected by hunger and a third of humanity faced food insecurity, says a UN report.

The report, titled ‘UN Food Waste Index Report 2024’, was released on Wednesday by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) ahead of the International Day of Zero Waste.

The report said food waste continued to hurt the global economy and fuel climate change, nature loss, and pollution.

The report, co-authored with WRAP, provides the most accurate global estimate of food waste at retail and consumer levels.

The document guided countries on improving data collection and suggested best practices in moving from measuring to reducing food waste.

In 2022, the study notes that 1.05 billion tonnes of food waste (including inedible parts) was generated, amounting to 132 kilogrammes per capita and almost one-fifth of all food available to consumers.

It reported that 60 per cent of the total food wasted in 2022 occurred at the household level, with food services responsible for 28 per cent and retail for 12 per cent.

“Food waste is a global tragedy. Millions will go hungry today as food is wasted across the world.

“Not only is this a major development issue, but the impacts of such unnecessary waste are causing substantial costs to the climate and nature.

“The good news is we know if countries prioritise this issue, they can significantly reverse food loss and waste, reduce climate impacts and economic losses, and accelerate progress on global goals,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP.

Since 2021, the data infrastructure has been strengthening with more studies tracking food waste.

Globally, the number of data points at the household level almost doubled.

Nevertheless, many low—and middle-income countries continue to lack adequate systems for tracking progress toward meeting Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 of halving food waste by 2030, particularly in retail and food services.

In her reaction, Harriet Lamb, the Chief Executive Officer of WRAP, called for greater coordinated action across continents and supply chains amidst the huge cost to the environment, society, and global economies caused by food waste.

“We support UNEP in calling for more G20 countries to measure food waste and work towards SDG 12.3.

“This is critical to ensuring food feeds people, not landfills. Public-private partnerships are one key tool in delivering results today.

“But they require support: whether philanthropic, business, or governmental, actors must rally behind programmes addressing the enormous impact wasting food has on food security, our climate, and our wallets,” said the WRAP CEO. 


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