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India Wastes As Much Food As United Kingdom Consumes: Study

All the social functions and social joints in India (specially the northern and central parts), for instance weddings, canteens, hotels, social and family functions, households, spew out so much food

Photo Credit : Reuters


An eye opening revelation had been made by a report cited in CSR journal. It says “Indians waste as much food as the whole of United Kingdom consumes”. In a nation like India where millions still sleep hungry on streets, it’s not a good statistic.

All the social functions and social joints in India (specially the northern and central parts), for instance weddings, canteens, hotels, social and family functions, households, spew out so much food.

According to the report in the journal, up to 40 per cent of the food produced in India is bound to get wasted. About 21 million tonnes of India’s entire wheat produce are wasted and 50 per cent of all the food across the world meets the same fate. Such a situation raises a concern that food ‘never reaches the needy’. In fact, according to the agriculture ministry, Rs 50,000 crore worth of food produced is wasted every year in the country.

India ranks 63 among 88 countries in Global Hunger Index (GHI, UN data). Wastage of food is not only indicative of hunger, climate change or pollution, but also of many other economic glitches in the economy, such as inflation. Our culture and traditions are also playing a lead role in this drama where only government policies may not be termed responsible for any such wastage. In India, the bigger the wedding, the larger the party and the more massive the waste is expected to be.

Food Wastage Records

● In a nation where millions of people do not have access to clean drinking water around 25 per cent of fresh water used to produce food is ultimately wasted. It will be shocking for many of us to know that if we calculate the figures in cubic kilo meters, this is a bit more than an average river flowing in India.

● Even though the world produces enough food to feed twice the world’s present population (a US department of agriculture estimate), food wastage is ironically behind malnourishment of the billions of people. The number of hungry people in India has increased by 65 million. A figure which is higher than population of few major powers of the world, like France.

● Acres of land are deforested to grow food. Approximately 45 per cent of India’s land is degraded primarily due to deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices, and excessive groundwater extraction to meet the food demand. Though during last two years India has retained and somehow made it possible to increase its forest area by more than 14,000 hectares (second largest after China).

● A nation which has its third largest imports are edible oils. Around 300 million barrels of oil, which has been used to produce food is ultimately wasted, due to wastage of such food.

Way Forward

The Minister of Food Processing, Harsimarat Kaur had said, “My ministry works as a catalyst. It has the potential for doing a couple of things which are the need of the hour. Firstly, bring down food wastage. Food is being wasted at the harvest point and during transportation. If the same food which is wasted can be processed, it would mean it could either be available in raw form or in bottled form at a price which is affordable to the common man.”

In the figure given above it can be observed that entire South Asia wastes 2.7 per cent of food during processing, noticeable part is that South Asian figures are majorly influenced by India’s data. This even raises a concern over the quality and process that is used in South Asian region.

Food wastage cripples a country’s economy to an extent that most of us are unaware. If food is wasted, there is so much waste of water used in agriculture, manpower and electricity lost in food processing industries and even contributes to deforestation. Taking all of into consideration, the actual worth of money per year in India from food wastage is estimated at a whopping Rs 58,000 crore to over Rs 96,000 crore.

Some measures that the government needs to take include containing wastage in transportation, improve storage facilities (the cold storage chain is 50 per cent less than required and that too needs to be brought up to world standards said chairman of ASSOCHAM), food processing also needs to be sped up so food is saved and wasted less to feed more.

While we may not be able to reduce food lost during production, we can certainly reduce food wastage at our personal level.

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Food wastage global hunger index Food Wastage in India