Total Food Wasted By the West Can Feed The World's Starving Seven Times Over

by Tanya Thomas on Jul 8 2009 10:50 AM

The aggregate amount of food wasted in the UK, Europe and the US, when combined, may be just enough to feed the world's starving seven times over, a new book on the subject has determined.

According to a report in The Sun, the book, aptly titled 'Waste', by small-scale farmer and food industry analyst Tristram Stuart, lifts the lid on the obscene levels of produce ending up in landfill.

Traveling from Yorkshire to China, from Pakistan to Japan, Stuart has investigated the excess food produced.

His investigation discovered that food chucked away in households in UK alone could feed 113 million people, which means on an average, people in the country discard enough good food to save two people from hunger.

Stuart also found that 30 per cent of potatoes, nearly one in every three that are sold, are discarded in Britain.

British farms and processors produce just under one million tons of potato waste each year - or one sixth of the national supply of spuds.

It was also revealed that between 40 per cent and 60 per cent of all fish caught around Europe are thrown back into the sea.

The market value of cod, haddock and whiting thrown away by UK trawlers comes to 50 million pounds.

According to Stuart's findings, British homes discard 484 million pots of unopened yogurt and 370 million pounds worth of bananas.

Stuart levels particular criticism at supermarkets, which are very protective of the information they release about the amount of food that goes to waste.

Sainsbury's send an estimated 60,000 tons of food waste to landfill sites each year. Estimates suggest that Asda throw away around 75,000 tons.

A survey by waste company Biffa has estimated that up to half of all British fruit and vegetables grown for supermarkets are rejected.

This is primarily due to tight specifications on size, blemishes and appearance.

Stuart argues that the world's mountain of surplus food is not just a tragedy, but also a great opportunity, as it can feed 900 million malnourished people in the world.

All of them could be lifted out of hunger with a fraction of the food wasted.

In a plea to farmers, consumers, shops and supermarkets, Stuart said, "The UN has backed a call for food waste to be halved by 2025. But, the target could be achieved even faster with the co-operation of businesses, governments and the public."

"Efficiency measures could create enormous savings, help the fight against hunger and guarantee food for future generations," he said.