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One-Fifth Of Grain In China Is Wasted From Field To Fork

19 of every 100 pounds of grain produced in China goes to waste, according to a new review of food waste in the People’s Republic of China.

| September 10, 2013 | In the Lab

AsianScientist (Sep. 10, 2013) – A comprehensive new review of food waste in the People’s Republic of China has concluded that about 19 of every 100 pounds of grain produced in the country go to waste, with related losses of water for irrigation and farmland productivity.

The report, which appears in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, was carried out by Junguo Liu at the Beijing Forestry University and colleagues at the Stockholm International Water Institute in Sweden.

Food waste is a global problem, and an estimated one-third to one-half of food produced worldwide being lost or wasted from farm to fork. Estimates suggest that the United States wastes about 40 percent of food crops.

But with only six percent of the world’s total water resources and barely nine percent of the arable land, China nevertheless must feed 21 percent of the world’s population, making the problem especially acute in China.

Liu’s team set out to document loss and waste of food as a basis for developing policies that could help sustain the food supply in the future.

They found that about 19 percent of rice, wheat and other grain in China is lost or wasted, with consumer waste accounting for the largest portion, at seven percent.

The overall loss meant the waste of an estimated 177 billion cubic yards of water used to produce food grown but never eaten — a volume equal to the amount of water Canadian farmers use to grow all their crops. And it also meant that 64 million acres of cropland were sown and harvested in vain.

Liu and colleagues recommended several strategies, including raising public awareness, improving storage systems, mechanizing the harvest of grains and putting in place monitoring programs to track food waste with more precision.

The article can be found at: Liu J et al. (2013) Food Losses and Waste in China and Their Implication for Water and Land.

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Source: ACS; Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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