Halving food losses would feed one billion people

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More efficient use of the food production chain and a decrease in the amount of food losses will dramatically help maintaining the planet's natural resources and improve people's lives, according to researchers at Aalto University, Finland.

Those researchers have proved a valid estimation, for the first time, for how many people could be fed with reducing food losses, a news release from the university contends.

The “valid estimate” information and contentions are explained in the following paragraphs.

The world's population is an estimated seven billion people. An additional one billion can be fed from our current resources, if the food losses could be halved. This can be achieved if the lowest loss percentage achieved in any region could be reached globally.

There isn't enough clean water everywhere on Earth. Significantly more agricultural land cannot be cleared as well as certain raw material minerals for fertilizers are running low. At the same time, a quarter of the amount of calories in produced food is lost or wasted at different stages of food production chain, which results in unnecessary resources loss, said Matti Kummu, post-doctoral researcher at Aalto University.

The new study is the first to evaluate the impact of food losses and its relationship to resources on a global scale. Annually 27 cubic meters of clean water, 0.031 hectares of agricultural land and 4.3 kilos of fertilizers per every inhabitant in the world is wasted in food losses, the research shows.

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 losses are very important matters for the environment as well as future food security, Kummu added.

Further, for the first time, the global food losses in terms of kilocalories per person were estimated.

As a result of food loss in the food production chain, it was determined that globally 614 kilocalories per every person a 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, according to the research conclusion.

This study was published in “Science of the Total Environment.” The researchers of VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands, and the University of Bonn, Germany, also participated in the research.

Aalto University, Finland, is described as a new multidisciplinary science and art community in the fields of science, economics, and art and design. The university's cornerstones are its strengths in education and research. Aalto University was created from the merger of three Finnish universities: The Helsinki School of Economics, Helsinki University of Technology and The University of Art and Design Helsinki. At the new university, there are 20,000 basic degree and graduate students as well as a staff of 5,000 of which 350 are professors.


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