Almost 800 million people are suffering from malnutrition in the world today. Meanwhile, around a third of all the food produced for human consumption is wasted or lost. This food waste, which amounts to around 1.3 billion tonnes every year, occurs at all stages of the food chain, from the farm to the consumer’s home, and its value is thought to be around US$1 trillion. As the world population continues to increase, reducing the amount of food that is lost or wasted will become more essential than ever. It has been estimated that by 2050 we will require a 60% increase in global food production to feed the population.
The causes of food waste differ between countries around the world. In developing countries, losses tend to occur at the earlier stage of the supply chain and are often due to financial and structural limitations in harvest techniques, storage and transport infrastructures, processing, cooling capabilities, packaging, marketing and infrastructure, as well as climatic conditions that favour food spoilage. Social and cultural conditions can also play a role in food loss in these countries. In medium- and high-income countries, meanwhile, waste tends to occur at the more downstream end of the food chain and often relates to food quality standards and consumer behaviour.