The United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Food Waste Index Report 2024 was released recently. It revealed that the world wasted one-fifth of the total food available in 2022. This amounts to 1.05 billion tonnes (or 19 per cent) of food available to consumers “at the retail, food service, and household level.” At the same time, 783 million people around the world suffer chronic hunger and a third of the world’s population faces food insecurity. The report showed that households are the key culprit when it comes to overall food wastage.

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“The equivalent of at least one billion meals of edible food is being wasted in households worldwide every single day, using a very conservative assessment on the share of food waste that is edible,” states the report. In 2022, households wasted 631 million tonnes of food, the food service sector 290 million and the retail sector 131 million.

Photo Credit: Pexels

The report reveals that hotter countries seem to have a higher per capita food waste in households. The authors suggest that probable causes including higher seasonal temperatures, extreme heat events, and droughts can “make it more challenging to store, process, transport, and sell food safely”. Furthermore, the difference in observed average levels of household food waste among High-income, upper-middle-income, and lower-middle-income countries is just 7 kg/capita/year. The report thus highlights that “food waste is not just a ‘rich country’ problem.”

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, says, “Food waste is a global tragedy. Millions will go hungry today as food is wasted across the world,” She adds, “Not only is this a major development issue, but the impacts of such unnecessary waste are causing substantial costs to the climate and nature. The good news is we know if countries prioritise this issue, they can significantly reverse food loss and waste, reduce climate impacts and economic losses, and accelerate progress on global goals.”

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About Toshita SahniToshita is fuelled by wordplay, wanderlust, wonderment and Alliteration. When she is not blissfully contemplating her next meal, she enjoys reading novels and roaming around the city.



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