Sources of food wastage identified in IME report

  • January 16, 2013
  • Rebecca Kannourakis

The UK-based Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) has revealed the ways in which up to half of the worldwide food supply is wasted.

The IME says that poor storage and delivery methods, harsh expiration dates, bulk buying offers, and reckless consumer behaviour were the primary culprits in developed countries.

Head of energy and environment at the scientific group, Tim Fox, said that conversely in the developing world, the losses tend to occur between agricultural fields and the marketplace, largely due to a lack of infrastructure. There is a shortage of delivery routes such as railways as well as essential equipment to keep food fresh. By contrast, the wastage in developed countries appear to be connected with poor marketing and consumer practices.

The IME report estimated between 30 % and 50 % of the 4 billion tons of food produced globally each year is wasted, with half of the food purchased in Europe and the US being thrown away after it is bought.

The report also mentions that large amounts of water and other inputs are used in an agricultural context to grow crops that will never be eaten. This results in large amounts of produced food never actually reaching consumers.

The Institution’s engineering director Dr Colin Brown says the problem of food wastage is progressively more significant as the world’s population is predicted to rise to 9.5 billion people.

Dr Brown said the wastage is an economic and engineering issue which can be addressed by more efficient food production and distribution systems.


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