Tackling the Hunger Pandemic
Updated: Jan 27, 2022
"The steps that food takes after it leaves your plate, and the challenges in avoiding food waste during the pandemic"
PHOTO: ©Mint Images
The fact that a significant chunk of all the food there is in the world is thrown away every second is not expected to be a surprise. Socially and economically, this turns into a disaster with unmeasurable consequences, and they became even harsher after the COVID-19 pandemic began. Effects of restrictions on supply chains, commerce and distribution - not to mention the manners of how society consumes and produces food - definitely changed expectations on how waste would turn out in 2020 and 2021.
In statistical terms, according to the World Economic Forum, around 931 million tons of food - which is 17% of global production - goes to waste each year; 61% of which comes from households, 26% from food service, and 13% from retail. Furthermore, this tackles not only hunger issues, but also waste management systems, food insecurity and climate change.
The Food Index Report, from the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), which reported all of that data, also advises measures that can be taken by each country in different scales in order to achieve the second Sustainable Development Goal - zero hunger by 2030. Some of them included redesigning business models, getting investors to set high demands for companies, repurposing public policies and investments and socially-responsible consumption. Also, at retail and supermarket level, there are plenty of bits to be done to reduce waste. Lowering energy consumption, maintaining quality and safety of products and also taking advantage of the Internet of Things. As a tool, the Internet of Things can allow chain integration to be more solid, as well as it can be used to monitor storage temperatures, stock levels, dates of expiry and many other aspects that contribute to a possible waste. Food insecurity, on the other hand, does not necessarily mean low consumption - it also reports signs of reduced quality, variety and desirability of a diet. Thus, the big picture does not essentially involve big corporation and distribution measures, but also public measures towards responsible eating and shopping habits. Local incentives instead of solutions on a global scale work perfectly for this case. Furthermore, from a resource viewpoint, the number of people suffering from hunger only increased by the year since 2014, as did food waste. This costs the globe around $936 billion a year, since it takes an incredible amount of resources in the production scale before the food arrives to your plate - energy, land, transport, labor, capital and water, just to name a few. This is why climate change is also broadly involved in that big picture.
In a nutshell, efforts can come from a broad variety of social sectors, including even extensive technology usage in those spheres. If this issue costs the world this much each year, in terms of social pain and financial costs, what is the world waiting for?