LONDON: Up to half of all the food produced worldwide ends up going to waste due to poor harvesting, storage and transport methods as well as irresponsible retailer and consumer behavior, a report said yesterday.
The world produces about four billion metric tons of food a year but 1.2 to 2 billion tons is not eaten, the study by the UK-based Institution of Mechanical Engineers said.
In developed countries, like Britain, efficient farming methods, transport and storage mean that most of the wastage occurs through retail and customer behavior.
Retailers produce 1.6 million tons of food waste a year because they reject crops of edible fruit and vegetables because they do not meet exacting size and appearance criteria, the report by the engineering society said.
Of the food which does reach supermarket shelves, 30-50 percent of what is bought in developed countries is thrown away by customers, often due to poor understanding of “best before” and “use by” dates.
Food prices will stay at high levels in 2013 and low stocks pose the risk of sharp price increases if crops fail, the UN food agency said yesterday, after its index showed prices fell for the third month running in December.
A surge in food prices over the summer of 2012 fueled by the worst drought in more than half a century in the United States and dry weather in other major exporters raised fears of a new food crisis such as the one seen in 2008.
But the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Price Index fell for the third month in a row in December to 209, its lowest level since June.