News / Europe

Global Campaign Aims to Cut 1.3 Billion Tons of Wasted, Lost Food

Cucumbers, two for 1 Euro ( $1.40) , are displayed for sale between other vegetables outside a supermarket in Berlin, Germany, May 30, 2011.
Cucumbers, two for 1 Euro ( $1.40) , are displayed for sale between other vegetables outside a supermarket in Berlin, Germany, May 30, 2011.
TEXT SIZE - +
Lisa Schlein
— A new global campaign aims to feed the world’s hungry by cutting the 1.3 billion tons of food lost or wasted each year.  The so-called “Think.  Eat.  Save” campaign, spearheaded by the United Nations Environment Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), specifically targets food wasted by consumers, retailers and the hospitality industry. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates 1.3 billion tons (or about one-third of all food produced worldwide) are lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems.  The financial loss is also huge.  The FAO says this lost and wasted food is worth around $1 trillion. 

The FAO says food loss occurs mostly at the production stages - that is during the harvesting, processing and distribution phases.  It notes food waste typically takes place at the retail and consumer end of the supply chain.

The director of the FAO Liaison Office in Geneva, Ann Tutwiler, says about half of the food that is wasted in rich industrialized countries is lost because producers, retailers and consumers discard food that is perfectly fit for consumption. 

“If you take all of the food that is wasted in the industrialized world, it amounts to more than the total net production of food in Africa," she said. "In the developing countries, about 95 percent of the food is actually lost before it even gets to the consumer.  These are unintentional losses because of lack of storage facilities, for example, lack of cooling facilities, lack of transportation and processing and many other problems within those food supply chains.” 

Campaigners say the global food system also has profound implications for the environment.  They note producing more food than is consumed exacerbates pressures on both land and water resources.

For example, they say more than 20 percent of all cultivated land, 30 percent of forests, and 10 percent of grasslands are undergoing degradation.  They note overfishing and poor management contribute to declining numbers of fish.  They say some 30 percent of marine fish stocks are now considered overexploited. 

The executive secretary of the U.N. Environment Program, Achim Steiner, says the problem of food waste is becoming more dramatic. He calls this phenomenon irrational.

“Irrational in terms of the household," said Steiner. "Irrational in terms of the future of our food security.  Irrational in terms of, for example, carbon emissions and climate change.  Imagine how much fuel and energy is expended for instance in cultivating one hectare to grow one hectare of wheat or maize or other staple food crops - the carbon emissions, the amount of energy and money that is expended on that.” 

The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 870 million hungry people in the world could be fed with one-quarter of the food now being wasted.

Campaigners say some actions consumers can take to stop food waste include meal planning and shopping smart, buying fruits and vegetables that may not look so good, but are perfectly fine to eat, freezing food and eating leftovers.

They say retailers can carry out waste audits.  Restaurants, bars and hotels, they add, can limit menu choices and introduce flexible portions.  And, using a bag to carry home leftovers ((known as the doggie bag ) can also be a great way to save food.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid