Improving food security and availability is increasingly important as temperatures continue to rise, the population continues to grow and water becomes more precious. The focus often falls on techniques to increase crop yield or expand land use, but a recent study in the journal Science of the Total Environment focuses on a different factor: food waste. The study found that if we could just reduce food loss in the production chain by 50%, we could feed another one billion people with no other changes to food production.
About a quarter of all food is lost somewhere along the food production chain before it ever reaches your plate. This means that 24% of the water used to grow food and 23% of the total cropland around the globe and 23% of fertilizer resources are being wasted. The largest waste occurs in North America, West-Central Asia and Oceania.
According to researchers, a 50% reduction is a realistic goal for all food producers. “If the lowest loss and waste percentages achieved in any region in each step of the FSC could be reached globally, food supply losses could be halved,” says Dr. Kummu, who contributed to the study. This reduction would help offset the massive and constantly increasing demands on the environment that food production requires. Currently, food production accounts for 90% of the world’s fresh water resources, and land is also running out. Reducing food waste, then, would provide enough food for all of the earth’s inhabitants without using more scarce resources.