Putting an end to the problem of food waste
Farmer's Weekly|January 21, 2022
In South Africa, about 30% of local agricultural production is wasted every year, which is equivalent to an estimated R60 billion, or around 2% of GDP. In a country where 30% of households are at risk of hunger, 31% experience hunger and 13 million children live in poverty, this waste is unsustainable and needs to change, says James Brand, a senior associate in ENSafrica’s Natural Resources and Environment department.
James Brand

Worldwide, significant quantities of food are wasted at all points of the food are wasted at all points of the supply chain and across all commodities. At the retail level, large quantities of food are wasted due to quality standards that overemphasise appearance. At the agribusiness level, particularly in Africa, inefficient processing and drying, poor storage and insufficient infrastructure are major contributors to food losses.

It is estimated that almost one-third of all food produced in the world (and in South Africa too) is never eaten, representing a huge loss of the resources that went into its production. It takes an area the size of China to grow the food that is thrown away every year, while food that goes uneaten accounts for 25% of all global fresh water consumption. If food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the US.

Reducing food waste would lower pressure on resources such as land, lower greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption, and lessen the use of fertilisers and pesticides in agriculture. In turn, this would mitigate climate change, conserve freshwater resources, protect biodiversity and reduce pollution.

The current inefficiencies in our food systems are troubling, especially when it is estimated that an additional two billion people will be living on the planet by 2050 and this will require a 70% increase in food production.

ACCURATE ESTIMATES OF FOOD LOSS AND WASTE BY SECTOR ARE CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE

However, scientists already note that of the nine planetary boundaries beyond which we cannot push the earth’s systems without putting societies at risk, humanity is already outside the safe operating space of at least four. This suggests an inevitable reality of greater regulation to ensure that food waste and food loss is reduced, as our planetary boundaries are finite and will require such measures.

IDENTIFYING THE GLOBAL AIM

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