A new study carried out by scientists at The University of Edinburgh have found that the world consumes 10 per cent more food than it needs – with 9 per cent of that figure going to waste.
By looking at 10 stages in the global food system and using data collected by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, the team found that more food is being lost than previously thought.
It discovered that almost half of harvested crops, at 2.1 billion tonnes, is being lost through overconsumption, consumer waste, and inefficiencies in production processes.
Worse still researchers found that livestock production loses around 78 per cent of its total at 840 million tonnes.
Researchers were also able to find that increased demand in some foods would decrease the efficiency of the food system – making it difficult to cater for an increasing population size across the world.
The increased demand would also result in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, which would inevitably deplete water supplies and decrease biodiversity.
Dr Peter Alexander of Edinburgh University’s school of geosciences and Scotland’s rural college said that:
Reducing losses from the global food system would improve food security and help prevent environmental harm.
“Until now, it was not known how over-eating impacts on the system. Not only is it harmful to health, we found that over-eating is bad for the environment and impairs food security.”
Dominic Moran of The York Management School and Department of Environment at the University of York said that, “this study highlights that food security can only be sustainably achieved through holistic approaches because consumer behaviours, as well as the actions of food producers and processors, all influence the sustainability of the food system.”
The full study is published here.