Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Reducing waste can boost food security

By Cecilia Tortajada, Matthew J. Kastner and Asit K. Biswas (China Daily) Updated: 2016-01-26 08:16

Reducing waste can boost food security

During the period of its 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), China intends to pursue a new development mode that will be "higher in quality, more efficient, fairer and more sustainable". Agriculture will be fundamental to this, given its significance to both food and environmental security.

China produces about three-fourths of the combined total value of production of all Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development countries. Globally, it is the largest producer of products such as potatoes, wheat, tomatoes, rice and apples. Its own agricultural products are supplemented by imports of agro-food products from all over the world to ensure food security.

But food security not only means enough food is available, but also the food that is available is not over-consumed or wasted. At present, industrialized Asia (China, Japan and South Korea) contributes 28 percent of the total food wasted in the world, which is estimated at 1.3 billion tons per year.

For industrialized Asia, three stages of the supply chain need special attention: postharvest handling and storage, distribution and consumption. The handling and storage stage of the supply chain accounts for 20 percent of the food wasted in the region, another 14 percent of food is lost at the distribution stage, while some 31 percent is wasted during the consumption stage, which is the third highest globally.

That vegetable losses in industrialized Asia account for about 11 percent of global food losses is of special concern, as this region accounts for more than 50 percent of global production and consumption.

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