Global food waste higher than previously estimated, new study reveals

"The problem is much worse than we think. We have to wake up. I hope it's a wake-up call."

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Global food waste is a much bigger problem than previously thought. A new study confirmed that people waste more than twice as much food as the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimated per day per person in 2005.

According to a new study, global food waste is up from 214 calories per day per person, which was estimated by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FOA) in 2015, to 527 calories wasted. This figure shows the extent of food waste worldwide, “but it considers supply alone and not consumer behavior,” U.S. News reported.

The study was published in PLoS ONE, an inclusive journal working to advance science for the benefit of society, on Wednesday and determined that “consumer food waste follows a linear-log relationship with consumer affluence.” Food waste “starts to emerge when consumers reach a threshold of approximately $6.70/day/capita level of expenditure,” the study stated.

“Food waste is a luxury when you’re poor, it’s not when you’re richer,” Monika van den Bos Verma, lead scientists at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands said to New Scientist. “The value of food, it goes down [as you get richer]. It’s also availability: the more you have, the more you’re likely to waste.”

Since there is a correlation between consumer affluence and food waste, the authors “suggest a threshold level of consumer affluence around which to launch intervention policies to prevent food waste from becoming a big problem.”

The study used data regarding human consumption together with data from the FAO, the World Bank and the World Health Organization to estimate food waste globally as well as by country. But the study is said to only cover “67 percent of the world’s population and did not include any data from the U.S. and some other highly wasteful countries,” EcoWatch reported.

But no matter what, global food waste is a behavioral issue that needs to be addressed, researchers said. A few simple solutions for reducing food waste include reducing food portion sizes and buying in excess. The study said that food must be “valued and appreciated” in society, BBC reported.

“The problem is much worse than we think,” van den Bos Verma said to New Scientist. “We have to wake up. I hope it’s a wake-up call.”

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