Wed | Nov 29, 2023

Letter of the Day | Stop food wastage

Published:Friday | September 30, 2022 | 12:06 AM


No one can dispute that we waste an enormous amount of food on a daily basis. This food loss is valued at US$400 billion yearly. The United Nations General Assembly designated September 29 as the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste. The theme this year is ‘Stop food waste, for people and planet’.

Reducing food losses and waste are critical in a world where millions of people go to bed hungry nightly, which is unacceptable. The Food and Agriculture Organization states that approximately 14 per cent of the world’s food is lost after harvest, up to but not including the retail stage of the supply chain, and an estimated 17 per cent is wasted in retail and at the consumption levels.

This food loss and waste account for eight to 10 per cent of the total global greenhouse gases contributing to an unstable climate and extreme weather events, such as droughts and flooding. These changes negatively impact crop yields, reduce the nutritional quality of crops, cause supply chain disruptions, and threaten food security and nutrition. The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), specifically SDG 12, target 12.3, calls for halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels, and reducing food losses along production and supply chains. Disturbingly, an estimated 3.1 billion people worldwide do not have access to a healthy diet, and some 828 million people go hungry. Undoubtedly, there is an urgent need to accelerate action to reduce food loss and waste.

With eight years left to reach the target, the urgency for scaling up action to reduce food loss and waste cannot be overemphasised.

Reducing food loss and waste presents an opportunity for immediate climate benefits, while improving the overall sustainability of our food systems – a necessary transformation to ensure better planetary and nutritional outcomes for current and future generations. There is a tendency for us not to look at the environment concerning food loss. For example, when food is thrown away in landfills, it rots and releases even more greenhouse gasses into the environment. Keeping food waste out of landfills is one way to help the environment.

As consumers, we all have a part to play in reducing food loss. Too many of us tend to cook more than we can eat or store properly, which leads to waste. The time to revisit this cultural outlook regarding food requires self-examination and change of mindset. This change of consumer behaviour will not be easy; however, it is achievable and must be done in order to reduce food loss and waste.