A worker sweeps up watermelons at a wholesale market in Chongqing, China. Waste from households accounts for only a small fraction of China’s discarded food. Credit: China Photos/Getty
More than a quarter of food produced for human consumption in China gets lost along the supply chain or lands on garbage 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.