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Shocking amount of world food supply is lost or wasted

Over thirty per cent of the food that is produced globally for human consumption is either lost or wasted according to shocking new figures produced by the United Nations. The UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has estimated that this equates to roughly 1.3 billion tonnes every year.

Forty percent of food losses in the developing world happen after harvest, whilst being transported or stored, and during packing and processing. In developed countries, forty per cent of losses happen as a consequence of consumers and retailers disposing of unwanted but frequently entirely edible food.

Given that we live in an age where over a billion people are in a constant state of hunger and the water, energy and land resources needed to feed the worldwide population of seven billion are ever more limited, it is clear that food losses on this scale are a huge waste and represent a failure in our food system.

Each year developing countries lose over 150 million tonnes of grains. This is 6 times the volume required to address the hunger issue in the developing world. Meanwhile countries in the developed world waste over 220 million tonnes of food each year. The food industries in these counties have many tools on hand to reduce the likelihood of food spoiling. These include preservation and pasteurisation facilities, climate controlled storage, drying equipment, chemicals which extend shelf life and transport infrastructure.

The following have all be cited as examples of our negligent attitude towards food; throwing away less popular specifies of fish at sea, discarding farm produce that is cosmetically imperfect, and cooking or purchasing more food than is required in the home.

A spokesman for the Worldwatch Institute explained that the global economy is already seeing sharp increases in food prices as well as the early effects of climatic change on food production and, as a result, we shouldn’t ignore these obvious, lost cost methods of reducing food waste.

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Consumers acknowledge that higher food prices are inevitable

A recent study showing that over sixty per cent of UK consumers now believe that the age of low-cost food has come to an end has partially allayed farmers concerns that the recent trend of higher food prices may adversely impact on the their industry.

The survey also found that almost eighty per cent of UK consumers believe that the nation should reduce its reliance on other countries for its food and become more self-sufficient. However seventy five per cent believe that the government should do more to avoid additional price increases.

The research, which will be a welcome boost to the nation’s agriculture, was conducted on behalf of the UK Crop Protection Association. The Association’s chief executive officer, Dominic Dyer, explained that the findings suggest that UK shoppers are fully aware and concerned about the worldwide factors that are influencing food price rises.

At last year’s ‘Inside Government’ conference, Dyer explained that the responses clearly showed that UK shoppers are concerned about the potential impact of variables such as climate change, energy supplies and population growth and the price of food.

Consumers also recognised the important role that science could play in helping to increase future production to overcome these challenges.

Dyer is concerned that high food prices may result in a reduction in consumer spend in other sectors of the economy, which could, in turn, have severe implications for the recovery and wider growth. To ensure that this doesn’t happen he has appealed for support to release the production potential of European and UK agriculture.

Dyer believes that European Union is in a position of denial regarding food security. With stagnant European crop yields and limited access to the most effective production tools he believes that food production could fall by a further forty per cent.