1 billion meals wasted daily in 2022: UNEP

Global food waste crisis worsens as 783 million face chronic hunger


March 29, 2024

/ By / New Delhi

1 billion meals wasted daily in 2022: UNEP

People wasted over 1 billion meals a day in 2022

In 2022, even while 783 million people continued to face chronic hunger, households worldwide wasted over 1 billion meals daily, according to a report by the United Nations Environmental Programme.

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Global food crisis continued to worsen in 2022 as disparities within societies led to an increase in the spread of chronic hunger amidst rising food wastage around the world.

These are some of the findings of a report published by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). The report, Food Waste Index has been co-authored with the Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP) and was released on the eve of International Day of Zero Waste, that will be observed on Saturday.

According to a report across all continents, people wasted over 1 billion meals a day in 2022, while 783 million people worldwide face chronic hunger, with many regions experiencing deepening food crises. Additionally, food waste has a severe environmental impact, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and requiring substantial land and water resources for production.

This marks the second report by UNEP, following the initial one in 2021 which accounted for food waste in 2019. A comparison between the two reports, the latest report reveals a global increase in household-level per capita annual food waste from 74 kg in 2019 to 79 kg in 2022. Similarly, India saw an increase from 50 kg per capita per year to 55 kg per capita per year during the same period. The highest per capita per year food waste at the household level was recorded in Maldives, reaching 207 kg per capita per year in 2022.

In 2022, global food waste distribution revealed that 60 pc occurred at the household level, 28 pc in food services, and 12 pc in retail. Contrary to assumptions, household food waste levels varied minimally among high-income, upper-middle, and lower-middle-income countries, with a mere 7 kg per capita difference it also revealed that the world wasted an estimated 19 pc of the food produced globally in 2022.
Simultaneously, warmer countries seem to produce more food waste per capita at the household level, possibly due to increased consumption of fresh foods containing significant inedible portions and limited access to reliable cold storage systems, says report.

The report emphasised the significance of international cooperation and policy development, particularly among wealthier nations, in leading efforts to reduce food waste. It pointed out the utilisation of public-private partnerships in numerous countries to measure and mitigate food waste in the supply chain.

It provides the most accurate global estimate of food waste at retail and consumer levels.

Inger Andersen

Inger Andersen

“Food waste is a global tragedy. Millions will go hungry today as food is wasted across the world, not only is this a major development issue, but the impacts of such unnecessary waste are causing substantial costs to the climate and nature. The good news is we know if countries prioritise this issue, they can significantly reverse food loss and waste, reduce climate impacts and economic losses, and accelerate progress on global goals,” says Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

According to the report, only few G20 countries, namely Australia, Japan, UK, US and the EU, possess food waste estimates suitable for tracking progress to 2030. Canada and Saudi Arabia have suitable household estimates, while Brazil’s estimate is anticipated in late 2024.

Fadila Jumare, a project associate based in Nigeria at the Busara Centre for Behavioural Economics, underscored how food waste worsens food insecurity, especially impacting vulnerable populations. Brian Roe, a researcher specialising in food waste at Ohio State University, stressed that reducing food waste can result in resource conservation, environmental protection, and enhanced food security.

The report concluded that although there are commendable efforts to combat food waste in low- and middle-income countries, global collaboration is indispensable for effectively addressing the issue. Richard Swannel, Director of Impact Growth at WRAP and a co-author of the report, stressed that food waste is a worldwide problem necessitating immediate action to reap economic, environmental, and social benefits.




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