Home South African News 30% of all SA’s food goes to waste

30% of all SA’s food goes to waste

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The Household Food Waste Study notes that the average annual cost of household food waste in South Africa was R21.7million.

The waste dump site at Caledon in the Western Cape. In South Africa, about 30% of all food produced is lost or wasted, while nearly a third of the population goes to bed hungry at night. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)/Archive

IN SOUTH Africa, an average of 12million people (almost a quarter of the population) go to bed hungry every night – yet our country has the largest proportion of food wastage in Africa.

According to the Household Food Waste Disposal Study, food wastage can be seen as having a triple negative impact.

First, in the waste of resources (including water and energy) used along the supply chain in the production, handling and distribution of food that is not consumed by humans.

Second, the socio-economic impacts associated with food insecurity, and lastly, environmental impacts associated with waste and emissions (including greenhouse gas emissions) generated during the production, harvesting, processing, distribution and disposal of food that is not consumed.

Professor Suzan Oeloftse, the principal researcher in waste for development at the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), said their estimates suggested that in South Africa, about 30% of all food produced was lost or wasted (not eaten by humans).

This was despite the fact that a large number of the South African population were food insecure, Oeloftse said.

She also stated that the reason for food waste was because households were buying too much food, meaning that some went off before it could be eaten.

“Poor households also often prepare too much pap or buy too much bread, which gets old and inedible. Or people fall for special offers, leading to them buying more than can be consumed before the food goes off,” she said.

The Household Food Waste Study notes that the average annual cost of household food waste in South Africa was R21.7million.

Therefore, preventing food wastage would not only save money for households, but would have broader economic, social and environmental benefits.

The study further states that reducing food wastage would address food and water security concerns and contribute to the development of more sustainable food systems.

Global estimates of food waste assume similar food wastage in South Africa compared with the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

For comparative purposes, the data collected in the study from metropolitan households in South Africa were converted into food waste per capita per annum.

This resulted in estimates of approximately 8kg and 12kg per capita per annum in Ekurhuleni and Joburg respectively. Both amounts are higher than the average of 6kg per person each year for sub-Saharan Africa.

Oeloftse said food wastage also had an additional negative impact on the poor.

“Food wastage means that more food has to be produced to feed people, and therefore wastage pushes prices up.” – Health-e News