Cutting global food losses by half could feed another billion people

fruitA recent study has shown that increasing the efficiency of the global food production chain, while decreasing the total amounts of food lost, would radically help to maintain the planet’s natural resources and enhance people’s lives. Researchers at Aalto University have for the very first time demonstrated a valid approximation of the number of people who can still be fed by reducing global food losses.

Currently, the world’s total population is projected to be around seven billion. An extra one billion people can be supplied with food from the existing resources by reducing the food losses by a half. This ideal situation can be achieved by reducing the global losses to the percentage levels attained by any regions recording the lowest losses.

A post doctoral professor at the university, Prof. Matti Kummu says that the earth does not have sufficient clean water. He further notes that more land for agriculture could not be cleared in significant volumes while the vital raw minerals used in fertilizer production have increasingly become scarce. Simultaneously, 25% of total sum of calories within the produced food, is either wasted or lost at various stages of the food production chain, resulting in unnecessary loss of resources.

This latest study seeks to evaluate the impact of global food losses along with its relationship to the earth’s resources. Every year about 0.031 ha of farming land, 4.3 Kgs of fertilizers and 27 M3 of clean fresh water is somehow wasted through food losses per capita around the world. As the first of its kind, this study has revealed crucial information including estimating food losses per person around the world in kilocalories.

The Aalto University professor goes on to say that while agriculture consumes more than 90% of fresh water used by people and almost all raw materials in fertilizer production, the focus should be on reducing food losses and increasing efficiency in food production. This will improve environmental conditions and further bolster global food security.

It was estimated that 614 kilocalories are lost per person each day around the globe due to losses within the food production chain. In the absence of such a loss, the current level of food production globally would stand at 2,609 kilocalories per person each day. As a result, by cutting down food losses by half, around eight billion people could be fed with the resources used currently.

Published in a science journal, the Science of the Total Environment, the study was conducted by Aalto University in collaboration with researchers from University of Bonn and VU University. It was further funded by IWT Flanders, Holland’s Organization for Scientific Research and Maa-ja vesitekniikan-tuki ry.

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