Step up to the plate: 5 ways to reduce your food waste.

3 Mar 2014

The World Bank has released its quarterly Food Price Watch. On the face of it, it’s good news for consumers. Dig deeper, and you’ll find some facts that are more difficult to swallow, including the huge amounts of food lost and wasted every year.

The World Bank has released its quarterly Food Price Watch. On the face of it, it’s good news for consumers. Dig deeper into the report and you’ll find some facts that are more difficult to swallow, including the huge amounts of food lost and wasted every year.

Food prices between October 2013 and January 2014 dropped by 3%, thanks to record harvests of wheat, maize and rice, stronger global stocks and increased availability of supplies.

Globally, approximately 4 billion tons of food is produced every year. The report states that annually, the world loses or wastes approximately 1.3 billion tons of the food it produces for consumption, causing huge economic, energy and natural resource inefficiencies, in addition to serious food insecurity concerns.

“Essentially, people fail to consume one quarter of all calories produced for them,” the report says. The statistics show there is enough food in the world to feed everyone, but that inefficiencies in the current system prevent it from being distributed effectively.

 

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Food waste is linked closely to commercial practices and cultural factors. The primary causes of food loss include inadequate agricultural practice knowledge, transport infrastructure and logistic systems, and poorly engineered storage facilities.

Factors which encourage domestic food waste include supermarkets’ promotional offers and high-pressure advertising campaigns, which lead to consumers over-purchasing. Once the food is at home, consumers’ poor understanding of ‘use by’ labelling may encourage food waste at home, the report says.

North America and Oceania lose and waste 42% of what they produce. More than half of the food loss and waste in developed countries happens during consumption, usually as a deliberate decision to throw food away.

Most food losses and waste take place at the consumption (35%), production (24%), and handling and storage (24%) stages of the food value chain.

The World Bank says that despite the food price decline, progress in reducing global chronic hunger has been modest.

“The amount of food wasted and lost globally is shameful. Millions of people around the world go to bed hungry every night, and yet millions of tons of food end up in trash cans or spoiled on the way to market. We have to tackle this problem in every country in order to improve food security and to end poverty,” says Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.

"Potential solutions to prevent food loss and waste include changing agricultural production techniques, making large investments in transport and storage infrastructure, and changing consumer and commercial behaviour," the report says.  

So what can you do about it? If you’re interested in reducing the amount of food waste, try these five tips below.

  • Eat ugly food. You won’t notice the bent carrot if you grate it into a salad, and those speckly brown bananas make the best cake!
  • Eat your leftovers. Invest in some BPA-free plastic containers and take your leftovers to work or school for lunch. Use leftovers as the basis of your next meal – yesterday’s bread is a culinary resource… think croutons, bread and butter pudding, panade.
  • Juice your old produce. Delicious, and nutritious.
  • Make a shopping list and plan your meals. Making a meal plan and sticking to it will save you money, especially if you buy seasonal fruits and vegetables and use these as the base of your meals. Click here to see a chart of what’s in season.
  • Freeze items to make them last longer… pour the rest of the can of coconut cream into an ice cube container and voila, next time you need it, grab some from the freezer.
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