One-third of all food produced in the world gets wasted each year, a staggering 1.3 billion tons that amounts to a loss of $750 billion a year.
The Rome-based Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said in a report Wednesday that food in developing countries is wasted mostly due to poor harvesting techniques, while in high-income areas the primary cause of waste is careless consumer behavior.
"We simply cannot allow one-third of all the food we produce to go to waste or be lost because of inappropriate practices, when 870 million people go hungry every day," FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.
The report said food waste hurts the environment by causing unnecessary carbon emissions, extra water consumption and the reduction of biodiversity as farming takes over more land. The most serious areas of waste are of cereals in Asia and meat in wealthy regions and Latin America.
Fifty-four percent of the world's food waste occurs during production, post-harvest handling and storage, according to the FAO study, while 46 percent of the waste happens at the processing, distribution and consumption stages.
There are differences in how food is wasted depending on economics.
In developed countries, consumers tend to overpurchase, and overreact to "best-before-dates."
In developing countries, the losses in food are at the production level, according to the FAO report, with significant post-harvest losses as a result of financial and structural limitations in harvesting techniques, storage and transport infrastructure.
FAO stressed the importance of raising awareness among consumers.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.