Food lost to farms is 1.2 billion metric tons, with a further 931 million metric tons wasted by retailers and consumers. The remainder is lost during transportation, storage, manufacturing and processing.
Updated data indicate that 40% of all food produced turns out to be inedible, according to the study that attempted to measure the amount of food wasted on farms for the first time in a decade.
“This report shows that the problem may be bigger than we thought,” he said.
According to the study, food waste accounts for 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions, up from the previous estimate of 8%.
“Food production uses large amounts of land, water and energy, so wasted food significantly affects climate change,” the report said.
Despite its outsized impact on the environment, just 11 of the national carbon plans submitted by the 192 signatories to the Paris Climate Agreement include measures to address food loss and waste.
Most of the schemes that deal with post-harvest losses come from African countries, even though farming in more industrialized countries, with higher levels of mechanization, is a bigger contributor to food waste than before.
Rich countries in Europe, North America and Asia contribute to 58% of crop wastage globally According to the report, despite having only 37% of the global population. Yet efforts to reduce food waste in wealthy countries tend to focus on retail and consumption.
“Farm-stage food loss is an important but overlooked food waste hotspot,” the report said. Causes of waste include a disconnect between markets and farmers, which can lead to mismatches in the amount of production, the types of crops planted and the timing of harvest.
Unfair trade practices and high preference for crops exported by farmers and governments for domestic consumption are also factors.
The report calls on governments and the food industry to set food waste reduction targets, take measures and report Create waste and strategies to address it within operations and supply chains.
Tesco CEO Ken Murphy said the retailer’s many suppliers will report their own agricultural food losses and waste for the first time this year, “to help us deal with waste in the early parts of our supply chain.” Murphy said the company is working with its 71 largest global suppliers to reduce food waste, a reduction of more than 40% compared to the 2016-2017 baseline.