A new study has revealed that an astonishing 50% of the world’s food production – approximately two billion tonnes – goes to waste every year, a vast proportion of which is still fit for human consumption.
The UK study released this month found that food waste can be attributed to several factors, including the purchasing policies of large supermarkets, the cosmetic appearance of produce and inefficiencies on-farm and in the supply chain.
“The revelation that two billion tonnes of produce is sent to landfill every year is deeply concerning, particularly in light of last year’s reports that $1.1 billion worth of fruit and vegetables are discarded in Australia annually,” said AUSVEG Spokesperson, Hugh Gurney.
AUSVEG is the National Peak Industry Body for Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.
“The average Australian household discards $616 of fruit and vegetables every year. With the global population projected to grow to nine billion by 2050, Australians need to urgently reconsider their waste habits,” said Mr Gurney.
“These findings indicate that the need for change does not lie entirely with consumers, because retailers often reject produce that fails to meet strict aesthetic criteria.”
“Retailers commonly turn away fruit and vegetables due to minor blemishes, discolouration or size inadequacies.”
“When produce is grown and then thrown away, fertilisers, water, land and energy are also expended in vain. The financial losses to growers are innumerable,” said Mr Gurney.
Vegetable production is one of the most water-efficient of all agricultural industries. Horticulture is currently Australia’s third largest agriculture industry based on gross value of production.
There are several non-for-profit organisations that collect surplus, unsaleable and donated produce and redistribute it to impoverished communities across the country in an effort to fight against excessive food waste.
AUSVEG urges Australians to refrain from discarding produce that is aesthetically imperfect, as taste and nutritional factors are often uncompromised.