According to a recent UN report, one-third (1.3 billion tons) of the world’s food is wasted each year. The report, entitled Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources, analyzes the environmental impacts of global food wastage, but also highlights the significant economic impact to food producers – $750 billion in costs annually.
In the report, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) attributes food loss costs as follows: vegetables 23%; meat 21%, fruits 19%; and cereals 18% percent. According to the FAO, meat (excluding fish and seafood) accounts for only 4% of total food wastage, but 20% of the total economic costs of food waste due to high producer cost. Conversely, total costs attributed to cereals are driven mostly by high food wastage volumes. The report calls for further research to quantify food waste costs along the food supply chain.
One such study was conducted by RMIT University’s Centre for Design in Australia. In addition to addressing the causes and sources of food waste along the supply chain, this study identifies opportunities for greater food security through improved design and use of packaging. For example, the RMIT study suggests that spoilage during distribution could be offset by increasing use of retail ready packaging to reduce double-handling.