Half of food produced worldwide is wasted

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Up to half of the food produced worldwide (about 2 billion tons) never makes it into a consumer’s mouth and is instead wasted, according to a new Britain’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ study. Part of the problem comes from the supply chain: inefficient agricultural practices, inadequate infrastructure, limited transportation options and poor storage capacity lead to squandered harvests and misused land, water and energy resources. But we, consumers, along with retailers are also to blame.

Major food waste causes include:

  • Sell-by dates- Overly strict (i.e. short) sell-by dates means food is often thrown out before its time
  • The BOGO trap- Preponderance of buy-one-get-one-free offers causes households to buy more food than they can eat before it spoils
  • Beauty contest- Customer demand for cosmetically perfect fruit and vegetables results in piles of scratched or misshapen (but still perfectly nutritious) produce ending up in the trash


  • In Europe and the U.S., consumers dump 50% of the food they buy
  • In Britain, about 30% of vegetable crops are left unharvested because they are not pretty enough
  • Americans waste up to 40% of the country’s food supply or 20 pounds per person per month (cost: $165 billion) per the Natural Resources Defense Council

Yet, today, nearly 1 billion people go hungry globally, and by 2075, 3 billion mouths to feed are expected.

Credit photo: Geraldine Wilkins / Los Angeles Times / January 10, 2013
La Vie En Green, food stamp


* Up for a little thought-sharing on this topic? 

– Do you ever have to throw away what used to be perfectly fine foods? If so, what is the main reason. Do you…

  • Buy too much food?
  • Forget about it in your fridge/cupboard?
  • Prepare/cook too much so it turns bad before you have time to eat it all?
  • Eat out more than you initially plan/change your plans often

– If you typically don’t waste food, is it because you…

  • Always buy just what you need based on experience?
  • Recycle leftovers in new meals or serve them at following meals (until they’re gone)?
  • Prepare the exact quantity you need, and/or freeze the surplus for later?
  • Weekly plan your meals so everything in your fridge/cupboard has a purpose?

Let us know… 

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