India – Food Production And Food Waste – An Eye Opener

Our global food systems have a significant impact on our health and the environment. They account for up to one-third of human-linked greenhouse gas emissions and 70% of the water withdrawn from nature. According to the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP’s) Food Waste Index Report 2021, 1 billion tonnes of food produced is lost or wasted every year, which is a key concern to nations all around the world.

According to UNEP Food Waste Index data 2021, India (68.8 million tonnes) is the 2nd largest food waste producer after China (91.6 million tonnes). Did you now 40% of the food produced in India is wasted, i.e. annually 50 kgs of food is wasted per person every year - value of food wastage in India is around ₹92,000 crores per annum. Considering the size of our nation and the number of households contributing to food waste, this number is staggering. Wastage of food affects not only the poor and hungry, but also the environment and the country as a whole. A vital part of preventing food waste is understanding the importance of not wasting it. Throughout this blog, we will examine the causes of food wastage, preventive measures, and what we can do to generate lesser waste on our end.

According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022 reports, 224.3 million Indians are undernourished and don't receive a healthy diet. As consumers, we need to reflect and be conscious about buying more food than we need at markets, letting fruits and vegetables spoil at home or taking larger portions than we can eat. Food that is currently being wasted can be redistributed to the poor and used to nourish those who lack access to healthy foods. As the famous quote by Pope Francis goes ‘throwing away food is like stealing from the poor and hungry’. These words indicate the importance of not wasting food.

Wastage occurs as a result of inadequate and improper food chain systems. According to the data released by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, this number peaked during the pandemic as stocks estimated at nearly 65 lakh tonnes were rotting away in godowns.

Taking action is the only way to stop this waste. Because of their conscious food habits, our grandparents did not waste food, but today's society lacks the same mindfulness. The 'waste not, want not' mentality must be brought back urgently.

What Can We Do?

Our conscious effort to prevent food waste and educate our family members, friends, and employees can significantly reduce this wastage. Make a change today and contribute to reducing food waste by following these tips. 

  • The person who cooks for your family should make an estimation based on how much everyone eats and prepare food accordingly. Refrigerate leftovers and use them before preparing more food. 
  • Wedding and breakfast buffets at hotels are among the leading causes of food waste. During these events, less quantity and higher quality would be more appropriate than extravagant displays of innumerable dishes. 
  • By calculating how much food our household consumes, we can shop more consciously while buying groceries. It is also imperative to avoid single-use plastics as much as possible to eliminate waste and pollution. 
  • To avoid wastage, we should order dishes in restaurants based on how much we can eat at the table. If there are still leftovers on the table, it would be practical to pack them and take them with you. 
  • Food and groceries can be preserved when they are properly stored in airtight containers and cooked food is promptly refrigerated. As a result, food waste is greatly reduced and produce's shelf life is greatly extended.


A Holistic Approach

There is a connection between food waste, the environment and the climate. Every negative action we take leads to further depletion of the planet. As a result of the waste of food, greenhouse gases and major pollutants are released into the atmosphere.

However, if we are mindful of our food consumption we can live a healthier, fitter and disease-free life. We can also reduce our carbon footprint and conserve natural resources. This ultimately benefits the planet and helps us leave a happier world for future generations.

Communities across India are now educating people around them on the issue of food wastage. We, as members of the community, should familiarise ourselves with organisations that are tackling this urgent concern and support them. Restaurants too are taking the initiative in reducing food waste and reusing their ingredients in innovative ways to prevent wastage. The greater awareness, the less food is wasted, thus benefiting everyone.

“At the government level, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) launched the save food, share food, share joy initiative to ensure distribution of food to reduce food wastage. This initiative is still at a nascent stage and to generate a large-scale impact, it is important for FSSAI and state governments to leverage the civil society networks working at the grass root level.”

 It is the need of the hour to act on the prevention of food wastage on a global scale. We can only reduce food waste by being sustainable in our practices. We, at Jaivik Farms wholeheartedly support the movement of eating better and causing lesser food waste. Here’s to a brighter, fitter and healthier tomorrow!

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