As much as half of the world’s food is discarded without ever making it to a human mouth, engineers at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers have found.
A new report that the organization released Thursday detailed how food is often wasted due to poor infrastructure, ridged expiration dates, two-for-one deals and consumers who demand perfect-looking food.
According to the report, “Global Food: Waste Not Want Not,” between 30 percent to 50 percent, or 1.2 to 2 billion tons of food, is thrown away annually. The report estimated that 30 percent of vegetables are never harvested in the United Kingdom due to their appearance, and up to half the food produced in Europe and the United States is discarded by the consumer.
The engineers, who have recommended the issue needs United Nations attention, also pointed to an overuse of water as another potential problem, claiming that by the year 2050 human’s fresh water use could be 2.5 to 3.5 times greater than it is today. They noted that meat requires 20-50 percent more water than vegetables.
“The reasons for this situation range from poor engineering and agricultural practices, inadequate transport and storage infrastructure through to supermarkets demanding cosmetically perfect foodstuffs and encouraging consumers to overbuy through buy-one-get-one free offers,” Tim Fox, the head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers explained in a statement.
The U.N. projects that by 2075 the world’s population will reach 9.5 billion people, or approximately 3 billion more than today. The Institute claimed that the coming population boom could lead to additional pressure on food supplies that could be extended with better food policies.
To eliminate the waste, the group recommended that the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation work with nations to make sure they are developing adequate systems to avoid wasted food, which the engineers estimate would provide 60 percent to 100 percent more food.
They also encouraged developed nations to confront consumer expectations of perfection in their food and over buying as well as looking to see that developing nations consider proper infrastructure as they move forward.