The world's current population is estimated at 7 billion people, and an additional 1 billion could be fed from current resources if food losses could be halved, according to researchers at Aalto University in Finland.
Their new study is the first to evaluate the impact of food loss and its relationship to resources on a global scale. Annually, 27 m3 of clean water, 0.031 hectares of agricultural land and 4.3 kilos of fertilizers per world inhabitant is wasted in food loss, according to the study. Agriculture uses over 90 percent of the fresh water consumed by humans and most of the raw materials used in fertilizers. More efficient food production and the reduction of food loss are very important matters for the environment as well as future food security, said Matti Kummu, a post-doctoral researcher at Aalto University.
As a result of food loss in the food production chain, globally 614 kilocalories per person per day are lost. Without this loss, present global food production would yield 2,609 kilocalories of edible food a day for every inhabitant in the world. "Thus, by halving the food losses, we could feed 8 billion people with the currently used resources," said Kummu.
The study was published in Science of the Total Environment. The researchers of VU University Amsterdam and the University of Bonn also participated in the research. In addition to Aalto University, the research was also funded by Maa- ja vesitekniikan tuki ry, Finland, and IWT Flanders and NWO, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.