The 1.3bn tonnes of food wasted throughout the supply chain each year could feed as many as two billion people without any additional impact on the environment, the Food and Agriculture Organisation has said.
At a seminar held in Rome to mark World Food Day yesterday, Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Emma Bonino said that while some 840 million people went hungry, food waste was “one of the great paradoxes of our times”, adding that wasting resources to produce food that was not consumed was unacceptable.
FAO director-general José Graziano da Silva called on everyone to update their understanding of global malnutrition, and to acknowledge that everyone plays a part.
He said that the notion that food lost or wasted could feed two billion people highlighted the size of the challenge as well as the opportunity.
"The economic costs of hunger are striking. They can amount to as much as 5% of global income through lost productivity and direct health care costs," he said. "The flip side is the huge economic benefits that could result from ending hunger and malnutrition.
“We still have many issues to tackle to make our food systems sustainable. But, for the first time in history, we have the means we need to overcome them.
“…World Food Day offers us an opportunity to adopt critical tools and solutions that will move us towards a well-nourished, hunger-free world.
“This year, we call upon everyone to update and broaden their understanding of the hunger problem, to view hunger and malnutrition as the tragic outcome of unhealthy food systems, food systems in which we all play a part.”
Also speaking at the event, Italian Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policy Nunzia De Girolamo called for a cultural change in the way food waste is viewed.
"Reducing food waste is not in fact only a strategy for times of crisis but a way of life we should adopt if we want a sustainable future for our planet," she said.