The Global Burden of Food Waste

woman throwing food waste into the compost pit
Composting the Kitchen Waste

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), in its 2019 report on State of Food and Agriculture, estimates that 14 percent of all food produced globally goes to waste.

This amount of food waste is adequate to feed all the hungry people in the world four times.

Of the various food categories, the following categories incur the highest level of food wastage, according to the FAO report:

  • Roots, tubers, and oil-bearing crops – 25%
  • Fruits and vegetables – 22%
  • Meat and animal products – 12%
  • Cereals and pulses – 8.5%
  • Others – 10% 

Food wastage has negative effects on the environment, and leads to loss of financial resources for businesses and households.

There are many causes of the global food waste burden, some of which include:

  • People buying more than they can consume within a given period of time,
  • Supermarkets throwing away food which is almost going bad, and
  • Confusion over the meanings behind the different food labels such as “sell by” date, “best before” date, “use by” date, and “display until” date.

Because of lack of adequate information about the food label dates and the fear of food poisoning, many consumers and retailers throw away food which is still in good condition.

The purpose of this blog is to educate consumers about the shelf life of different foods, from fruits to vegetables, proteins, drinks, condiments, and grains, among others.

Through such education, we hope to contribute, albeit minimally, to finding solutions towards the global food waste problem.

The blog will provide answers to questions such as:

  • How long does food last?
  • Does food go bad?
  • What is the shelf life of food (in different temperature environments, that is, in the fridge, in the freezer, and at room temperature)?
  • How do you tell food that has gone bad?
  • What is the best way to store food to increase its shelf life?
  • Where is the best place to store food to increase its shelf life? 

The blog will also, from time to time, review products related to food preparation and storage.