Food Waste Facts

There is an estimate of 815 million starving people on our planet. And yet, we waste 1,3 billion tons of food annually. (And 45 trillion gallons of water if you were wondering.) This amount of food waste is enough to feed 3 billion people.

In South Africa alone, 10 million tons of food go to waste each year. That’s a third of the 31 million tonnes produced annually in South Africa. And to put this in Rand value, this amounts to roughly 62 billion rands annually. What are we doing? These figures are shocking.

Food loss and waste also amount to a major squandering of resources, including water, land, energy, labor, capital, and needlessly produce greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming and climate change.

Food waste occurs at several points along the food supply chain and the most costly food waste takes place during food distribution, amounting to an R19.6-billion loss, followed by processing and packaging that account for an R15.6-billion loss and agricultural production, with an R12.5-billion loss. Inefficient processing and drying, poor storage, and insufficient infrastructure are instrumental factors in food losses in Africa. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the post-harvest food losses are estimated to be worth US$ 4 billion per year – or enough to feed at least 48 million people. Strengthening the supply chain through the direct support of farmers and investments in infrastructure, transportation, as well as in an expansion of the food and packaging industry could help to reduce the amount of food loss and waste.

Here are more facts:

The food currently lost in Africa could feed 300 million people. In the EU, 88 million tonnes of food is wasted annually, with associated costs estimated at 143 billion Euros. In Denmark, 700,000 tonnes of food are wasted annually. Europe, the food currently wasted could feed 200 million people. Latin America could feed 300 million people.

By 2050 the world population will reach 9 billion. By then, food production must be increased by 70% to meet the demand. Reducing food losses and waste must be among the main areas we should be focussing on.

To meet the challenge of feeding growing populations and addressing food insecurity, massive reductions in the amount of food wasted after production are needed. Here is how you can help:

Use the food that you already have in your refrigerator. Less food waste means that you’ll save your money, you’ll save your time – and at the same time, you’ll save the planet.

Leftovers are free bonus food. Create a new attitude toward your leftovers. When you use your leftovers, you save a trip to the supermarket, you save your time and you save your money.

Your refrigerator is not your garbage bin. Make sure that no old leftovers are left to die in the back of your fridge.

Learn to store the food properly. Apples, pears, bananas, and oranges should not be in contact with each other, otherwise, they will ripen faster. Tomatoes, avocados, potatoes, bananas, and citrus fruits must be stored outside the refrigerator. Use packaging only suitable for food.

More is not always better. Focus on the quality of food, rather than quantity. When you buy food of better quality, you’ll also tend to waste less.

Have a great number of food storage containers to store your leftovers.

Share your surplus food with your neighbor if you’ve cooked too much food. After a big dinner, give homemade doggy bags to your guests.

Regrow your food. You can regrow celery, garlic, spring onions, cabbage, salad, herbs, fennel, coriander, carrots, leeks, and much more – right in your own home. Join the regrow trend and grow your own free food.
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