Food Waste Is Worse Than We Thought and the Rich May Be to Blame
A slice of toast with Vegemite spread on its surface sits on a plate in an arranged photograph in Melbourne, Australia. (Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg)

Food Waste Is Worse Than We Thought and the Rich May Be to Blame

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(Bloomberg) -- The world is throwing away more than twice as much food as previously thought, with the wealthy the worst offenders, according to new analysis.

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization in 2011 estimated that one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. But that figure grossly underestimates how much food is thrown away at home because it doesn’t take into account that rich people waste more than their poorer counterparts, according to analysis by Wageningen University & Research.

Food Waste Is Worse Than We Thought and the Rich May Be to Blame

The average person wastes 527 calories of food a day, far more than the 214 calories a day the FAO estimated for 2005-2007 in its earlier report, according to The Hague-based Wageningen Economic Research. That’s based on data about food production, body weight and affluence from countries representing about 67% of the world population as of 2005.

Consumers began throwing out food when their spending hit about $6.70 a day, indicating that people in richer countries are likely to waste more food. That could point to a future problem for developing countries.

“If these growing economies follow the same growth paths as the developed regions, we will soon see similar food waste patterns evolving,” according to the report.

A soaring level of food waste around the globe is a growing environmental problem, with 10% of developed nations’ greenhouse gas emissions derived from throwing food that’s never eaten, according to the UN Environment Programme.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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