Waste of resources used in food production.
Food production is possible because of the complex network of resources including farmers, data, information and logistics, traders, industries, resources such as land, people, water, energy, as well as facilities such as machinery, irrigation systems, storage, and chemicals.
Every bit of these resources is important to make it possible for fresh food to end up on our plates. It means losses and waste have an even bigger impact on humans and the environment.
Waste of Land
The surface area of the earth is approx 14.8Gha. Out of this, 10Gha is capable of supporting crop agriculture, and approximately 5Gha is already in use. If we allow a third of global food to go to waste, then we are wasting away more than 10% of the total land area. That is not good enough, especially at a time that we are advocating forest, biodiversity, and vegetation preservation.
Waste of Water
Water in the form of rainfall, springs, fresh-water bodies, and the likes are key in agriculture. An estimated 3.8trillion m3 of water are now drawn for human use each year, equivalent to the contents of 1.5 billion Olympic-sized swimming pools. The bulk of this abstracted water, about 70%, is taken by the agricultural sector. (1)
Water is used for irrigation, food processing, and preparation. What is the point of using so many precious water resources only to see them go to waste?
Waste of Energy
Human power, fossil fuels, electricity, machinery, and fertilizers are all used up to produce food. As an example: As an example, almost all field equipment is powered by diesel engines. These include farm tractors, harvesting machines, and a wide range of mechanical handling and transport equipment. Also, diesel-powered irrigation pumps are vitally important but consume large quantities of energy. All of this contributes to a global consumption by the agriculture of approximately 120 million tonnes of diesel fuel annually.
Energy is consumed in the entire food chain process. This is why reducing food waste and losses is important because it will ultimately make our energy use on agriculture worthwhile.
1. Page 10, http://www.imeche.org/docs/default-source/reports/Global_Food_Report.pdf?sfvrsn=0