World wastes food, studies find

There’s a lot of wasted food in the world, according to yet another study on the topic. This one, from the British-based Institution of Mechanical Engineers, estimates the loss at about 50 percent.

About 4.4 billion tons of food is produced annually and roughly half of it is never eaten, according to the group, which writes that this is “a tragedy that cannot continue if we are to succeed in the challenge of sustainably meeting our future food demands." Read the complete study.

CNN reported that the engineers analyzed food production and consumption practices in countries at various states of development, like China, and newer levels of development, like those in Africa. While waste occurred globally, broader food production problems seem to be more prevalent in less developed areas.

Of the food which does reach supermarket shelves, 30-50 percent of what is bought in developed countries is thrown away by customers, often due to poor understanding of "best before" and "use by" dates, Reuters noted.

The findings are in line with a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) last year that found that the American food chain – from the farmer to the grocery store to the refrigerator – wastes 40 percent of all food produced.

But the percentage comes in a bit lower in another recent study commissioned by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The “Global Food Losses and Food Waste” report estimates one-third of the food produced globally for human consumption is wasted annually. The study also found that consumers in rich countries annually waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa.