Research investigating nutrient losses via food waste give an intuitive understanding of the implications of food waste.
Food waste across 151 countries was assessed, using indicators for nutrient loss across 25 different nutrients. Globally, it was found that 65 kg of food was wasted per person per year, which when compared to nutrient requirements is the equivalent of 18 daily diets. In other words, the food that is wasted annually by one person could meet their nutritional requirements for 18 days.
This study considered the whole composition of food, including micro-nutrients, rather than taking a single-dimensional approach such as weight, calories or protein only. It found that high-income nations wasted six times the weight of food wasted by low-income nations, and that plant-sourced foods were wasted more than animal-sourced foods. Cereals, fruits and vegetables were the major contributors to wasted nutrients. This matches the results of the DELTA Model, which shows that nutrients wasted both in-home and along the supply chain are predominantly plant foods.
Although many assumptions and the extrapolation of data was necessary to generate the global values, the study does give a more intuitive understanding of the impact of food waste, and what it means in terms of global nutrient provision and environmental impacts.
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