1/3 of the food produced in the world goes to waste
“A billion people in the world suffer from undernourishment. Each year 10 million people starve to death. Each 6 seconds one child dies of starvation somewhere in the world. If we reduce food waste by 5%, 4 million people could be saved” – such pieces of information can be found on leaflets and posters from a public awareness campaign initiated in China in 2013 and aimed at reducing food waste. According to publications by Global food losses and food waste, the problem concerns many countries other than China, and it constitutes a challenge for their governments.
Upon a request by FAO, the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology did research on food waste in the world and prepared some publications. The research was conducted from August 2010 to January 2011 and it led to the conclusion that immediate action was needed. It turned out that about 1/3 of the food produced was wasted or lost, that is 1.3 billion tonnes of food each year. Looking at the calorific value, every fourth calorie fit for consumption is wasted.
“Clean Your Plate” campaign
In 2013 a non-profit organization from Beijing initiated a campaign whose first slogan was “Start from me, no leftovers on the plate today”. The aim of the event was to educate the Chinese consumers about good practice of food consumption. Having gained wider reach, the campaign changed its name to “Clean Your Plate” and has used this slogan ever since.
The campaign was so successful that the Communist Party of China vowed to take measures to prevent further food loss and waste. According to China Daily, precise data concerning the scale of the problem in China is unavailable, but the waste of cereal products alone is though to exceed 50 million tonnes each year!
The State Cereal Administration of the PRC says that the food wasted in China each year is worth about 32 billion dollars, which could suffice to feed 200 million people for a year. The people behind the campaign stress the importance of educating the society, informing about better safe food storage methods, and the social benefits of reducing food waste.
Effects have become visible
The campaign gained impressive reach in the Chinese society and the results have begun to appear. Restaurant owners have confirmed that the quantity of waste and leftovers in the kitchen had fallen. Patrons have begun to take leftovers home. Some eateries have even introduced a special menu with smaller prices, while some canteens suggest that customers pay a “clean your plate” deposit upon each order. They get the deposit back on condition that there are few leftovers on the plate they return.