According to the key facts on food loss and food waste by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 1/3 of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year.

Every second a person dies of hunger. Right now, more than 1 billion people suffer from hunger. This means that 1 in every 6 people on Earth don't get enough food to live a healthy life. This year 36 million of these people will die of hunger!

Why can't FAO(Word Food and Agriculture Organization) or UN or state leaders do something about it?

  • Good question about what more UN/FAO could do to address world hunger. However, as phrased, it promotes the theory that food waste causes world hunger. As such, the question is a discussion prompt, which is not appropriate for this site. Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 15:55

1 Answer 1


There's generally two types of food waste: (almost) at the point of consumption and before that. In richer countries large amounts of losses happen at the point of consumption or just before that, for example consumers, supermarkets and restaurants throwing excess (but otherwise good) food away. In poorer countries most loss occurs in the supply chain (transport, storage, harvesting, etc.).

These two types require different approaches:

Rich countries need to help consumers tackle food waste. That's hard, because there is little incentive for doing so. The consumer doesn't really benefit from wasting less and companies in the supply line also don't really benefit from saving after they've made their money. One way to change that would be to create some sort of incentive, but how do you do that on a large scale?

Poorer countries need knowledge and technical solutions to reduce losses in the supply chain. Here the problem is quite obvious, it costs a lot of money to improve the supply chain, which is hard to do for poor countries. Rich countries can and do help with this, but there's only so much they're willing to do. In addition, there are many foreign aid things that need money, so whatever money is spent on foreign aid gets divided over different causes.

This Guardian article is interesting and should support some of the claims in my answer.

  • 3
    Also, reducing type 1 waste would not help reduce hunger: less food would be produced, that's all. This would certainly have benefits for ecology, though.
    – IMil
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 5:19
  • 4
    @JJJ Are you sure that most food waste in rich countries happens at the consumer? Supermarkets tend to throw away a lot of unsold food every evening, because consumers expect the full selection of fresh products until the last business minute.
    – Philipp
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 7:38
  • @Philipp I think it's broadly true. We could find some primary studies but e.g.(feedingamerica.org/our-work/our-approach/reduce-food-waste.html) has home first, although it's roughly comparable to retail.
    – richardb
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 8:03
  • @Philipp I should phrase it a bit broader, consumer should be rephrased to include retail (so really the very end of the supply chain). See this. Quote:"In developing countries 40% of losses occur at post-harvest and processing levels while in industrialized countries more than 40% of losses happen at retail and consumer levels."
    – JJJ
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 9:01
  • 1
    @Philipp Supermarkets are incentivized to throw away as little as possible. They do throw away a lot of food, but they try really hard to only order the amount that they can sell for a profit. A supermarket that consistently orders too much food will go out of business.
    – David Rice
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 13:42

You must log in to answer this question.