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Published: 2013

Global food - waste not, want not

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Today, we produce about four billion metric tonnes of food per annum. Yet due to poor practices in harvesting, storage and transportation, as well as market and consumer wastage, it is estimated that 30–50% (or 1.2–2 billion tonnes) of all food produced never reaches a human stomach. In order to help prevent a future global food crisis, the Institutiton of Mechanical, Engineers recommends: 1. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) works with the international engineering community to ensure governments of developed nations put in place programmes that transfer engineering knowledge, design know-how, and suitable technology to newly developing countries. This will help improve produce handling in the harvest, and immediate postharvest stages of food production. 2. Governments of rapidly developing countries incorporate waste minimisation thinking into the transport infrastructure and storage facilities currently being planned, engineered and built. 3. Governments in developed nations devise and implement policy that changes consumer expectations. These should discourage retailers from wasteful practices that lead to the rejection of food on the basis of cosmetic characteristics, and losses in the home due to excessive purchasing by consumers.
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