More than a quarter of food produced for human consumption in China gets lost along the supply chain or lands on rubbish heaps.
Liu Gang at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense and his colleagues looked at data from field surveys and reviewed the published literature to assess the ultimate fate of food produced in the nation of 1.4 billion people. They estimate that around 350 million tonnes of China’s annual farm product, or about 27%, is discarded by retailers, restaurants or consumers — or is ruined and disposed of before reaching retail level.
Although almost half of the loss occurs during food storage and processing, out-of-home eating, including at food stalls, restaurants and canteens, produces some 45 million tonnes of food waste each year, the researchers found.
Food waste on such a large scale threatens environmental and sustainability goals, the scientists say. To reduce waste, the authors suggest, among other steps, that rural Chinese households use more-efficient storage systems and that urban restaurants reduce portions and encourage patrons to take their leftovers.