AMID global food crisis China has stepped up efforts to reduce food waste as an effort to reform its food systems and to meet one of the goals of UN 2030 Agenda: Zero Hunger, as a recent UN report warned that the world is on the verge of the worst food crisis in 50 years and almost 690 million people in the world were undernourished in 2019.
Despite the food crisis facing many regions in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, the amount of food waste in some affluent regions is shocking.
There is no national report that can reflect the food waste across China, but research jointly conducted by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2015 revealed a small tip of the iceberg.
The field research, collected data from four cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Lhasa, estimated that urban cities in China waste 17 to 18 billion kilograms of food annually, which corresponded to annual food consumption of 30 to 50 million people. Tourist groups, primary and secondary school students, and official banquets were the top three causes of food waste, the report said.
Another 2015 report by the National Bureau of Statistics estimated that the total amount of food wasted in the consumption stage is 50 billion kilograms, which can feed 350 million people a year. And that does not include the production, processing and retail stages.
Looking at other food-abundant countries, the amount of food waste is also high.
In the U.S., food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. Its 2010 data shows that 31 percent of the food loss happens at the retail and consumer levels, corresponding to about 60 billion kilograms and 161 billion U.S. dollars’ worth of food in 2010.
In the EU, around 88 billion kilograms of food is wasted annually with associated costs estimated at 143 billion euros (169 billion U.S. dollars), a report released by the EU Commission in March 2016 stated.
Food wasting has increasingly become a global problem especially when huge swathes of populations remain hungry due to conflicts, extreme weather events, COVID-19 and economic slowdowns.