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A recent report has claimed that as much as half of all the food produced in the world - two billion tonnes worth - ends up being thrown away.
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers said, inefficient farming practices, overly strict sell-by dates, buy-one-get-one free offers and shoppers demanding perfectly shaped vegetables all contribute to as much as 2 billion tonnes of food never reaching the meal table.
In Britain, families throw away 7million tonnes of food, valued at more than £10billion, every year.
It includes 17billion portions of fruit and vegetables as supermarket offers tempt us to purchase in bulk.
However, almost a third of vegetable crops are not harvested because they are misshapen and shops would refuse to sell them.
The report said that between 30% and 50% of the four billion tonnes of food produced around the world each year went to waste.It suggested that half the food bought in Europe and the US was thrown away.
In India, 21 million tonnes of wheat is wasted annually because of harvesting done by hand, leaky and unsanitary warehouses and outdated distribution systems.
Across parts of sub-Saharan Africa and south-east Asia, bruising, mould, water damage, birds, insects and rodents all destroy large quantities of food.
In some south-east Asian countries, losses of rice are as high as 80 per cent. Up to 550billion cubic metres of water is wasted in the process of growing produce that never reaches our shopping baskets.
Vast quantities of water are also wasted in global food production, the report claimed. Approximately 550 billion cubic metres of water is used to grow crops that never reach the consumer. Producing one kilogram of meat is also said to take 20 to 50 times more water than producing the same weight of vegetables.
The demand for water in food production could reach 10 to 13 trillion cubic metres a year by 2050, the institution said. This is up to 3.5 times greater than the total amount of fresh water used by humans today, raising the spectre of dangerous water shortages.
The United Nations predicts there will be an extra three billion mouths to feed by 2075 as the global population swells to 9.5 billion.
As water, land and energy resources come under increasing pressure from competing human demands, engineers have a crucial role to play in preventing food loss and waste by developing more efficient ways of growing, transporting and storing foods.
For more information on the global food wastage market, see the latest research: Food Wastage Market
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