14% of the world’s food is wasted

World's food

Global food waste generates losses of about 400,000 million dollars each year and implies the wastage of 14 % of the food produced worldwide, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned today.

The report “Agricultural Perspectives 2023-2032”, prepared together with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), foresees an increase in the next decade of food waste, which currently stands at around 931 million tons.

The increase in the volume of food thrown away is hidden behind the increase in, for example, food losses throughout the distribution chain, which will go from the current 180 million tons to 234 in 2032.

While another 157 million tons will be wasted on crops, 20 million more than today.

“Reducing food loss and waste is a fundamental part of improving food system outcomes and improving food security and sustainability,” the document alleges.

Uncertainty in raw materials

The FAO focuses on the “constant economic risks”, such as the rise in energy prices or the impact of the war in Ukraine, on world food production, which adds uncertainty to the product stability of the coming years.

In this sense, each increase of 1% in the price of fertilizers, essential for most crops and for the production of livestock feed, especially those intended for poultry and pigs, would imply a final increase of 0.2% in the cost of all agricultural raw materials.

However, the report acknowledges the improvement in the availability of grain and fertilizers produced on Ukrainian territory after the interruption of the trade in these raw materials at the beginning of the war, revived after the Black Sea Grain Initiative, in which representatives from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN oversee the shipping of merchant ships laden with grain.

Moderation in emissions

Despite a forecast increase of 12.8% in agricultural production until 2032, greenhouse gas emissions generated by agriculture will only increase by 7.6%, a smaller increase than in the last 10 years and which shows a “ rapid decline in carbon intensity in the primary sector.

However, the report recalls that “innovative efforts must be widely adopted to ensure that agriculture contributes effectively to climate change mitigation ” especially in the case of livestock, which will account for 80% of the increase in projected agricultural emissions.

At the same time, the different food production systems will face the challenge of adapting as soon as possible to the effects of climate change, such as the increasingly frequent droughts and floods.

Rich and poor

The evolution of the agricultural and livestock market and raw materials will vary depending on the levels of economic development of the countries.

While the demand for animal feed will moderate in the rich thanks to improvements in productive efficiency, in low- and middle-income states the rapid increase in production will force the production of more livestock feed.

Biofuels will also gain a presence in the next decade in low-income countries, especially in India and Indonesia, while in the European Union the growing restrictions on polluting transport will reduce the demand for these raw materials.

On the other hand, forecasts point to a generalized increase in agricultural production, due 79% to increase in crop productivity, while 15% would be due to the increase in the size of the plantations and 6% to the greater intensity of land exploitation.