How are 1.3 billion written out

FAO: 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted annually

Geneva. (red) With a worldwide campaign, the United Nations wants to curb the dramatic waste and loss of food and thus also fight hunger. Every year 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted worldwide, as a study presented in Geneva on Tuesday found out. In purely mathematical terms, that is about four times as much as would be necessary to solve the hunger problem in the world.

According to the UN World Hunger Report last October, one in eight does not have enough to eat - that is around 870 million people in total. The amount of 300 million tons thrown away annually in the industrialized nations alone would - in theory - be enough to feed these people, said the Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), José Graziano da Silva, according to the announcement.

Around a third of the food produced worldwide is lost - either through the harvest, the distribution methods or it is simply thrown away by the consumers.

"In a world of seven billion people, which will have grown to nine billion by 2050, there is no economic, ecological or ethical place for wasting food", explained Achim Steiner from the UN environmental program Unep. Because one must not forget that soil, water and fertilizers were used to produce the wasted food. Food waste therefore occurs against the background that the condition of over 20 percent of the world's agricultural soils deteriorates every year. Agricultural irrigation accounts for more than three quarters of annual water loss. The deforestation of forests to get new land for agriculture is responsible for more than 30 percent of global greenhouse gases. In addition, greenhouse gases are emitted during the production or transport of food.

In industrialized countries, quantities of food that exceed the net production of food in sub-Saharan Africa are thrown away, "although the food would still be edible," explains José Graziano da Silva.

On average, according to the study, every European and North American throws away between 95 and 115 kilograms of food each year. In parts of Africa and Asia, the amount is between six and eleven kilos per capita.

According to the FAO, 95 percent of the food waste that occurs in developing countries is due to inadvertent losses from inadequate harvesting methods, malfunctioning cold chains and inefficient packaging methods.

In developed countries, on the other hand, there is wastage from "quality standards that overestimate looks, confusion about expiration dates, and consumers throwing food away because they have bought too much," it said.

"Think, eat, save"

Under the motto "Think.Eat.Save", more awareness is to be created among producers and consumers. According to UN experts, food waste could be curbed by simple measures. For example, they demand that customers should also buy the less perfectly shaped fruits.