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Half world's food production never reaches our mouths!

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Published: 10 Jan 2013      

Half of the entire World’s Food Production Never Reaches our Mouths, According to recent Global Food Report!

This morning while I got myself ready for work, with the news on in the background and my daughter rabbiting on about a computer game, a global food report on food and the waste of food came on that made me stop and think. To be honest the report did not surprise me one little bit. The one thing the news report did do that surprised me was, to make my daughter silent not for long, but there was silence.

At the tender age of 13, she was gobsmacked, as she put it, at what the news reporter was saying. She then got her laptop out to find the report. Now for a 13 year old to stop chatting about ‘Minecraft’ and look up a report, that’s almost unheard of!

She quickly read through the report, telling me parts of it and doing an impression of Victor Meldrew minus the swearing. By the time she finished, she looked rather annoyed and she quickly said, “Mum you need to write an article about this for Topping Forty”. So as she left for school, I powered up the PC and found the report and to be honest, I can understand what annoyed her so much.  

I hunted around the internet to find out what others were thinking. I found excuses from the supermarkets blaming the consumer, the farmers blaming the supermarkets for their rules that foods must have a certain shape and the consumers saying “it’s not their fault” either.

So whose fault is it?

As a parent and a consumer, I think it’s everyone’s fault. We all have to take a bit of the blame, from consumers not shopping correctly and using what they have before buying more; to the perfectionists, or should I say the perceived perfectionists, who want perfect looking food. The supermarkets need to take responsibility for their actions also. For me I don’t mind if the carrots are not straight and the apples look out of shape. Guess what - it usually tastes nicer.

Farmers - well I don’t throw much blame at them. To be honest they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. My daughter’s idea before she left was, “why don’t the farmers get together and create their own produce shop and sell all the ugly fruit and vegetables?” Yes she has a point. This may give the supermarkets a run for their money!

So we get to the report that all the news stations and papers over the world are talking about. The report was created from a study by The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME). This study has been looking at food production and waste over a period of years and they have put the data together to show what can happen if things are not done to solve the problem.

I have put the main details of the report and comments made by Dr Tim Fox, the Head of Energy and Environment at the IME, below along with a link to the report. It makes for shocking but not surprising reading.

Report details

  • According to new figures released, as much as half of all the food produced in the world, a staggering two billion tonnes worth, is said to end up being thrown away.
  • The IME reports that, poor storage facilities, over-strict sell-by dates, "get-one-free" offers, and consumer fussiness all contribute to the waste.
  • Dr Tim Fox said, “This is food that could be used to feed the world's growing population, as well as those in hunger today."
  • "The amount of food wasted and lost around the world is staggering” he reported. 
  • Dr Fox also reported "It is also an unnecessary waste of the land, water and energy resources that were used in the production, processing and distribution of this food."
  • The report produced by the IME is scary to say the least.

Below are some of its disturbing findings:

  • Each year countries around the world produce some four billion tonnes of food. Between 30% and 50% of this total, amounting to 1.2 to two billion tonnes, never gets eaten, says the report. (that’s enough food to fill – wait for this – 16 MILLION jumbo jets!!!)
  • In theUK, up to 30% of vegetable crops are not harvested because their physical appearance fails to meet the exacting demands of consumers.
  • Half the food purchased in Europe and theUSis thrown away after it is bought.
  • It's claimed that vast quantities of water are also wasted in global food production with around 550 billion cubic metres of water is used to grow crops that never reach the consumer. (that’s enough to fill – are you ready????- 183 MILLION Olympic sized swimming pools!!!)
  • Producing one kilogram of meat is also said to take 20 to 50 times more water than producing the same weight of vegetables. 
  • The demand for water in food production could reach 10 to 13 trillion cubic metres a year by 2050, the institution said.
  • This is up to 3.5 times greater than the total amount of fresh water used by humans today, raising the spectre of dangerous water shortages.
  • By 2075 the United Nations predicts that the world's population will reach around 9.5 billion, resulting in an extra three billion mouths to feed.
  • The report also stresses that, added stresses on the ability of the world to feed itself include global warming and the growing popularity of meat, which requires around 10 times more resources than staple plant foods such as rice or potatoes.
  • Dr Fox added: "As water, land and energy resources come under increasing pressure from competing human demands, engineers have a crucial role to play in preventing food loss and waste by developing more efficient ways of growing, transporting and storing foods.
  • "But in order for this to happen governments, development agencies and organisation like the UN must work together to help change people's mindsets on waste and discourage wasteful practices by farmers, food producers, supermarkets and consumers."

To read the report, please use the link below


As consumers, what are your thoughts on this report and how do you think we can change the attitude of the supermarkets, farmers, governments and finally us, the consumers?

Please let us know. All comments received will be compiled, published on our site, and sent to our local MP to show that as consumers, we want action taken.