WHEN you walk through your local supermarket, it’s hard to imagine anyone going hungry in 2019. But the latest figures show that things have been getting worse for the last three years, and 820 million people in the world are going hungry. An extra 1.2 billion people experience some form of food insecurity, which means they don’t have regular access to enough food that’s nutritious and safe to eat.
Since 11% of the world’s people are hungry, that must mean there isn’t enough food to go around, right? Wrong! In the UK alone, households throw away five million tonnes of perfectly edible food every year. Another 1.9m tonnes is wasted by the food industry, from farmers to manufacturers, supermarkets and restaurants.
Globally, we waste around a third of the food we produce, at a cost of nearly
$1 trillion (£800 billion) every year. But, even then, obesity is also on the rise in almost every country, contributing to four million deaths every year.
“There’s more than enough food in the world,” says Compassion in World Farming’s Philip Lymbery. “We produce enough food worldwide to feed 16bn people – far more food than we could ever need. (There are fewer than 8bn people on Earth.) What we’re doing with it is wasting it. Part of that waste is in our homes and our supermarkets and also letting it rot in fields. But the biggest portion of food waste on the planet is feeding human-edible crops like cereals and soya to factory-farmed animals.”
In 2016, countries signed up to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to end poverty, tackle climate change and reduce inequality by 2030. One of the goals is to reach ‘zero hunger’. Lots of businesses are making important changes too, and lots of UK companies, including all the big supermarkets, have pledged to halve their food waste by 2030. Many donate tonnes of goods to food banks and charities.