WASHINGTON, February 27, 2014 — The world loses or wastes one-quarter to one-third of all food produced for human consumption, according to the latest issue of the World Bank's quarterly Food Price Watch citing FAO and World Resources Institute estimates. In regions rife with undernourishment, such as Africa and South Asia, this shocking loss translates to 400 to 500 calories per person, per day—and up to 1520 calories in the developed world.
“The amount of food wasted and lost globally is shameful,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. “Millions of people around the world go to bed hungry every night, and yet millions of tons of food end up in trash cans or spoiled on the way to market. We have to tackle this problem in every country in order to improve food security and to end poverty.”
According to the latest edition of Food Price Watch , global food prices declined by 3 percent over the last quarter but remain close to historical peaks, driven by record-setting harvests in wheat, maize and rice, increased supplies, and stronger global stocks.
Domestic prices showed large variations across countries, as is typical. Stable prices continue among a number of regions, while mixed trends are evident in East and South Asia as a result of seasonal factors, procurement policies, and localized production shortfalls.
According to the report, the Bank’s Food Price Index in January 2014 was 11 percent lower than a year ago and 18 percent below the all-time peak in August 2012. However, prices over the last quarter declined by only half the amount of the previous quarter (June-October 2013). Wheat prices notably declined by 15 percent this quarter, reversing previously seen increases (especially in October 2013), and the price of internationally traded maize fell by 2 percent, extending the consecutive price decline to nine months.
Pressures on food prices are expected to weaken in the short term, with normal trends in terms of crop conditions anticipated in the coming months. However, weather concerns in Argentina, Australia, and parts of China, higher oil prices, and the anticipated release of rice stockpiles in Thailand need continued careful monitoring.
The report also outlines the economic, environmental, natural resources, and poverty implications of food loss and waste and suggests engineering and policy interventions in developing and developed countries to tackle this growing issue.
How the World Bank Group is helping
The World Bank Group is committed to boosting agriculture and agriculture-related investment. In 2013, new Bank Group commitments to agriculture and related sectors were $8.1 billion. For IBRD/IDA, assistance to agriculture and related sectors has risen from an average of nine percent of total lending in FY10-12, to 12 percent in FY13.
IFC made $4.4 billion in private sector investments across the food supply chain in FY13. These investments supported projects that promote access to finance, access to inputs like seeds, equipment and advice, and access to markets through infrastructure and food-processing facilities.
The WBG supports the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP). Nine countries and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have pledged about $1.4 billion over 3 years, with $1.2 billion received.
Boosting IBRD/IDA allocations to safety nets (rose ninefold from $1.2 billion in the FY06-08 pre-crises period to over $11.3 billion in FY09-13).
Coordinating with UN agencies through the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis and with non-governmental organizations, and supporting the Partnership for Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) to improve food market transparency.
Advocacy for more investment in agriculture research–including through the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) – and monitoring trade to identify potential food shortages.
Supporting improved nutrition among vulnerable groups: During the past decade (2003-2013), the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank's fund for the poorest, has ensured that more than 210 million pregnant/lactating women, adolescent girls, and/or children under age five were reached by basic nutrition services. The Bank is also an active member of the Scaling Up Nutrition movement and supports the SecureNutrition Knowledge Platform, which aims to improve nutrition through agriculture investments.
IFC is launching the Global Irrigation Program (GIP), providing support to irrigation suppliers to increase availability and access for efficient irrigation equipment to better manage water use for agriculture.