Christopher Furlong/Getty ImagesBetween 1.2 billion and 2 billion tons of the 4 billion tons of food produced around the world every year never gets eaten, according to a new survey by a group of British engineers.
That means that up to half of all food produced for human consumption is thrown away.
“The amount of food wasted and lost around the world is staggering. This is food that could be used to feed the world’s growing population — as well as those in hunger today,” said Tim Fox, Head of Energy and Environment at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and one of the authors of the report in a statement.
Waste occurs at practically every step in food production: in the field, during transportation, while in storage, during distribution and in homes.
For example, as much as a third of all vegetables grown in Britain are never harvested because the they don’t look appealing enough for supermarkets to buy them, according to the report. (The authors also blamed supermarkets that promote large-quantity food purchases that often lead to wasted “expired” food at home.)
In developing countries, food waste is often the result of inadequate storage and distribution systems. In India, for instance, 21 million tons of wheat are wasted after being harvested but before they reach consumers.
The U.K.-based group of experts released the report – Global Food: Waste Not. Want Not.- earlier this month. The institution says 60 to 100 percent more food could be saved by eliminating loss and waste.
In British homes alone, seven million tons of food, or 30 to 50 percent of the food purchased, is thrown out, according to the report.
Besides money, consumers are wasting clean water, labor and land.