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Cost of food waste reaches $2.6T/yr, says FAO

/ 02:02 AM January 02, 2016

Food wastage costs the world about $2.6 trillion yearly, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

The FAO said the amount included $700 billion in environmental costs and $900 billion in social costs.

In terms of “primary product equivalents, the volume of food that goes to waste is pegged at 1.6 billion tons a year— with the edible part estimated at 1.3 billion tons.

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At the same time, 1.4 billion hectares of land or 28 percent of the world’s agricultural area is used to produce food that is lost or wasted.

“Developing countries suffer more food losses during agricultural production, while in middle- and high-income regions, food waste at the retail and consumer level tends to be higher,” the FAO said.

“The direct economic consequences of food wastage [excluding fish and seafood] run to the tune of $750 billion annually,” the United Nations agency added.

In the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture is pushing for efforts to rejuvenate the soil as the FAO has warned that wasteful food distribution and processing continues to sap essential soil nutrients, adding to threats to world food security.

Citing data from the United Nations Environment Program, the FAO said the 222 million tons of food that rich consumers around the world throw away is almost as large as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa.

The UN group has raised the alarm about the prospects of food supply over the next 35 years, noting that the global population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050.

The FAO is calling for an “all-of-government” approach, involving multiple ministries and levels of government, to tackle matters that include the need for soil conservation and more resilient crops.

Also, the FAO said that not only do food distribution and processing need to be made more efficient, but many agricultural practices will need to be shepherded by new goals and technologies.

Such needed change entails “shifting from an input-intensive approach to one that allows us to produce more with less.”

The FAO said this new approach requires innovation in areas such as soil conservation and restoration and breeding seeds resilient to warmer or more volatile weather patterns, as well as land management systems designed with an eye to absorbing carbon emissions.

TAGS: food, Food and Agriculture Organization, Food Wastage, food waste, United Nations
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