India is a country of rich heritage with abundant culture, flavours and cuisines. Yet it is grappling with a serious issue that impacts nearly 23 crore people living in the country – Food Wastage in India. The Ministry of Agriculture, India reported that nearly 50,000 INR crores worth of food gets wasted each year.
This alarming amount of food that is getting wasted every single day in a country where millions of people still go to bed hungry each night is an appalling reality that demands our immediate attention and action. Come with us to know the food wastage facts in India.
Magnitude of the Problem-food waste in india statistics 2023
According to the UNEP’s (United Nations Environment Programme) food wastage index report, 68.7 million tonnes of food is wasted annually in Indian homes, in simple words it is about 50 kgs per person. It stands 2nd worldwide in terms of household wastage of food only followed by China.
A report by the National Resources Defence Council (NDRC) says that 40% of the food produced goes uneaten in the US, whereas in Asia, approx 1.34 billion tonnes of food gets wasted; the main contributors being India and China.
The FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) reported that 1/3rd of all food produced in India gets wasted or spoilt before it is even eaten. This is a very serious concern as it comes to show that people not only waste the food deliberately but aren’t even aware of it.
But what are the reasons for this staggering amount of wastage?
Causes of Food Wastage in India
Believe it or not, a large quantity of food gets wasted even before it reaches the consumer’s plate. Right after harvest, the food commodities begin to deteriorate in quality if they are not handled properly. This includes poor transportation facilities, overloading in warehouses, the warehouses being maintained very poorly and finally improper handling during distribution.
Lack of awareness
Be it eating from restaurants or at home, most people think it is okay to waste food because they have paid for it. Of course, the restaurants or vendors will not be facing any loss as they are charging us, consumers, for the same, but the real cost is to the economy and the planet. The food that was wasted because we couldn’t priorly plan if we could consume it or not; would land in the trash, thus not being of any use to anybody.
The Big Fat Weddings
India is famously known for its ultra-grand weddings throwing extravagance wherever possible but what it is not known for is that it is one of the leading causes of food wastage. Enormous amounts of food go to waste during such occasions. According to research, about 40% of the food prepared goes to waste and is simply thrown away after the wedding ends.
One of the most problematic causes of food wastage these days is the usage of edible foods in markets such as Cosmetics, Healthcare etc., When the foods do not comply to the standards set by these markets they would straight up get rejected although they are perfectly edible. This is a grave mistake that would cost the economy largely.
Consequences of Food Waste
Hunger & Malnutrition
The leading consequence of food wastage on the country is its direct contribution to malnutrition and starvation. According to a report released by Feeding India, around 194.4 million people or 14.3% of the population are not receiving adequate nutrition. India is also ranked in the 107th position out of 121 countries in the Global Hunger Index, 2022.
Food waste in India is not just a national issue; it also affects the planet on a large scale as food is a universal commodity and is not just restricted to people of a particular country. The environmental hazards associated with the wastage are also immense resulting in the emission of unnecessary carbon that could result in a devastating note.
In India, 40% of the food wasted is equivalent to nearly 89,000 crore/year. This is equivalent to nearly 1% of the GDP which is depleted in the form of food wastage in India.
What might look like a harmless wastage of food deeply impacts the agricultural sector and affects the nation’s economy. We also need to keep in mind that it is not just the food that is getting wasted but also all the resources such as water, land, energy and most importantly the hard labour of the farmers and all the people involved in the production of food. This is the food wastage statistics in India.
Efforts to Reduce Wastage
Here is some food waste management in India through some acts and government policies.
Streamlining the Supply Chain
Food Wastage can be greatly reduced by putting in place efficient supply-chain practices such as cold storage facilities and better inventory management.
Effective Management of Excess Food
In case of excess food remaining after weddings or other big social gatherings, it must be redirected to NGOs or organizations involved in distributing the food to people in need.
The Government must take proper measures to sign policies in association with the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations to curb national food wastage and encourage citizens to reduce wastage by offering rewards.
Some Startups Tackling Food Wastage in India
This Delhi based startup collects food by-products and other surplus raw materials from food producers and converts them to high-value nutrition rich innovative bakery feed ingredients for animals. This not only helps maintain a sustainable economy but also majorly eliminates wastage of valuable resources.
Founded in 2019, this Chennai based startup offers Nature-inspired solutions to food wastage by developing active packaging sachets which have in-built defence mechanisms for fruits and vegetables to preserve their quality and slow down their ripening process. This concept is driven by the mission to curb post-harvest losses in India as despite being the second-largest producer of fruits & vegetables in the world, nearly 40% of the fresh produce grown gets spoilt before it even reaches the consumers.
By coming across such inspiring Indian startups, it shows that when the right measures are implemented, it is indeed possible for India too to reduce wastage and uplift the agricultural economy. At this point, you don’t need to think about how to prevent food wastage in India. These companies have done everything from your side.
One of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals is –
By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.
Would we as fellow Indians contribute to the goal? Well, it’s about time we did!
Food wastage is an economic and environmental crisis that needs our immediate attention and to combat this issue, every Indian must work towards it. In a country where food is worshipped close to God, it is high time we take ownership of our consumption and be more self-aware about it.
As much as it is a right for every citizen to eat good food, it is also our responsibility not to waste it. Here’s to making India a more sustainable and self-sufficient country!
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