ROUGHLY a third of food produced—1.3bn tonnes of the stuff—never makes it from farm to fork, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. In the poor world much of this waste occurs before consumers even set eyes on items. Pests feast on badly stored produce; rough roads mean vittles rot on slow journeys to market. In the rich world, waste takes a different form—items that never get picked off supermarket shelves, food that is bought but then goes out of date.
Such prodigious waste exacts multiple costs, from hunger to misspent cash. Few producers and processors record accurately what they throw away, and supermarkets resist sharing such information. But some estimates exist: retailers are reckoned to mark down or throw out about 2-4% of meat, for example. Even a tiny reduction in that amount can mean millions of dollars in savings for large chains.
Waste also damages the environment. The amounts of water, fertiliser, fuel and other resources used to produce never-consumed food are vast. The emissions generated during the process of making wasted food exceeds those of Brazil in total. Squandering meat is particularly…Continue reading