Food losses: staggering figures, disproportionate impact

Gaspillage alimentaire


food losses


Some theorists, such as Malthus, stated the probability that planet Earth would no longer be able to support population growth in terms of feeding the human race.

At the time, it was assumed that the population would grow exponentially, while vegetable crops, for example, would increase linearly.

Since these theories, several strategies leading to a considerable increase in food production have emerged. While there are large areas of the world where hunger persists, there is also the other side of the coin where we are talking about phenomenal amounts of food loss.

food waste
Frightening figures
Food waste has reached disproportionate proportions. Worldwide, more than 41,200 kilos of food are thrown away every second, amounting to 1.3 billion tonnes of food wasted every year. It is estimated that 1/3 of total food production is not consumed. It seems that this food loss is as much attributable to developing countries as to rich ones.

We might think that almost all food waste comes from farmers and industry. In fact, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in 2013, 54% of food losses worldwide occurred upstream in the chain (production, harvesting and handling), while 46% occurred downstream in the chain (processing, distribution and consumption).

The distribution of post-production food losses involves the citizen! Planetoscope figures show that up to 42% of losses come from consumers.

What about here?
Canada is said to have a total food loss of 58%, totalling 35.5 million metric tons. Obviously, it's not the consumer alone who has the power to change this catastrophic statistic. According to the report The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste, 12% of Canada's total food waste comes from households.
foos waste breakdown
The social and ecological impact
One of the reasons for this gargantuan waste is that its social and ecological price is not taken into account when decisions are made.
true cost of waste

Olivier De Schutter, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, states that we could feed twice the world's population, yet nearly a billion people suffer from undernourishment in addition to the two billion who are malnourished.

This food waste clearly demonstrates that investment in food is poorly distributed and highly disparate.

The environmental impact of food waste is grandiose and also deserves our full attention.

It is the 3rd biggest polluter in the world. Although assessing its real impact is complex, it can be understood with eloquent statistics:

  • Food waste is responsible for releasing 3.3 gigatonnes (or 33,000 million tonnes) of greenhouse gases every year.
  • Food produced but not consumed requires 250 km3 of water (i.e. 250000000 million liters) every year.
  • Food produced and not consumed takes up almost 30% of the world's agricultural land (1.4 billion hectares).
  • Food waste increases agricultural expansion and causes major losses in biodiversity: disappearance of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, etc.

Don't you think it's high time we took a more in-depth look at strategies for better management of food resources? In the industry itself, in our supply chain and in our own day-to-day food management?

We may not have any real power over what happens directly in the fields, but as consumers, we do have various powers to ensure a better balance and a considerable reduction in food waste.

From the way we shop to the way we store and cook our food, there are a number of strategies that can be developed, and we'll be covering them in the next article.

Until then, good thinking

Ecologically yours,

eco loco


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