A new report by WWF and Tesco claims one billion tonnes more food than previously thought is being wasted globally, calling on consumers to fully embrace “wonky” fruit & veg to help tackle the crisis.
The report, Driven to Waste, claims an estimated 2.5 billion tonnes of food goes uneaten around the world, including food on farms, in shops, restaurants, food processing and at home.
Of that, almost half, 1.2 billion tonnes, is wasted before it even leaves the farmgate.
It is a huge increase of nearly a billion tonnes on previous estimates of 1.3 billion tonnes wasted annually, from a major report published in Italy in 2011.
The new data indicates that of all food grown, about 40% goes uneaten, compared with the previously estimated figure of 33%.
The carbon footprint of the food wasted on farms equates to that produced by 400 million cars driven in one year.
The report comes hot on the heels of Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy, which highlighted the fact that in the UK alone a third of food is wasted before it leaves the farm and more than a quarter of food grown is never eaten. This accounts for between 6% and 7% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions.
Driven to Waste also showed that a total 4.4 million sq km of agricultural land – a land mass bigger than the Indian subcontinent – is needed to produce food that never leaves the farm.
“Decisions by business and governments have a significant impact on the levels of food lost or wasted on farms, including in the UK,” said David Edwards, director of food strategy at WWF-UK.
“To radically reduce food waste, we need ambitious reductions targets across the whole food supply chain, with businesses who buy the food supporting farmers in making this happen. Transforming our global food system is critical in tackling the climate and nature crisis and safeguarding our planet’s health.”
Tesco CEO Ken Murphy said: “As an industry we must increase our efforts to tackle the issue of food loss and waste throughout the entire supply chain.
“At Tesco, we publish food waste data for every one of the markets we operate in and have been working with 71 of our largest global suppliers to reduce food waste and have already reported a reduction of more than 40%, when compared to our 2016/17 baseline.
“Using the Target Measure Act framework, we are continuously taking action, from broadening our specs and selling wonky veg in our Perfectly Imperfect range, to donating surplus farm produce to schools and communities in Kenya. This year several of our suppliers will report on their own farm food loss and waste for the first time, helping us to tackle waste in the earliest parts of the supply chain.”