Every year in the world, a third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. Even though almost as much food is thrown away in developing countries (630 million tons a year) as in industrialised countries (670 million), the reasons for waste vary according to each country’s level of development.
In poor countries for example, most food is lost before it gets to the merchants’ stalls, during or immediately after the harvest, in storage or while it is being transported. It takes some small producers a week to go and sell their stocks… For example, almost half of the food that gets to Mumbai is lost or damaged on the way because of the bad state of the roads,
In rich countries, a lot of food is also lost during harvests but waste is mainly due to consumers’ bad habits. This explains the vast amounts of food that are wasted. We are so used to abundance and always encouraged to buy more food by promotional « 3 for the price of 2 » offers that we regularly throw away food that is still edible. In Europe and in the United States, each consumer throws away between 95 and 115 kg of food on average per year.
There are now 925 million people - one out of seven human beings - suffering from hunger. Since the price of food keeps increasing, reducing waste could play an important part in ensuring world food security. In the North, shopping wisely (for example, not buying fresh products when you know you are going to be away), cooking reasonable proportions and using leftovers could help reduce waste. In the South, farming practices need to be modernised, harvests need better storage and transport infrastructures need to be reinforced to bring farmers closer to their customers.