How much food is wasted in Mexico per year?

This year, the solid waste sector, including food waste, will be the fifth-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

How much food is wasted in Mexico per year?
Large quantities of healthy edible foods are often unused or leftover and discarded from household kitchens and catering establishments. Image: Public domain

One-third of the food produced annually in Mexico is wasted. This is equivalent to 38 tons of unused food every 60 seconds, which could well feed 25.5 million people in a situation of food shortage. The above, according to estimates of the civil organization Food Banks of Mexico, has 55 establishments in the country to rescue food and bring it to families and communities in need.

For this year, the solid waste sector, including food waste, will be the fifth-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country, according to references from the World Bank in its study "What a Waste 2.0. A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050", published in 2018.

The loss of 20.4 million tons of food is equivalent to 34% of the annual national production. In economic terms, that waste represented more than 400 billion Mexican pesos. This is equivalent to twice the 2018 budget of Sedesol, and the then SAGARPA, the current Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development.

In turn, the social cost of food waste contrasts with the shortages faced by millions of people. If the country were to stop the loss of food at different levels of the chain, the 50.8 million Mexicans who to date cannot acquire the minimum necessary to live would have food on their table every day. Every year, the cost of food losses in Mexico is equivalent to USD 36 billion.

Food waste
Food waste

Food waste had economic and environmental implications

The annual economic cost of carbon dioxide emissions for food losses and waste in Mexico is US$368,864,591 (at 2016 exchange rates). With an average of 360 liters of water occupied by a Mexican house per day, the unused food is equivalent to the liquid consumption of 303,348,857 people in a year. That is, enough water for all Mexicans for 2.4 years The total cost of water loss from wasted food in Mexico is US$7.9 billion per year.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) identifies that food is wasted, among other reasons, because "fresh produce that deviates from what is considered optimal, in terms of shape, size, and color, is often removed from the supply chain during sorting operations. Similarly, retailers and consumers often discard food that is close to or beyond the best-before date.

Recommendations to reduce food waste

Serve or eat smaller portions of food at home and share with friends in restaurants, in case the portions are too large.

Save your leftovers for another meal or use them on a different plate.

Make a list of what you need and try to follow it. Don't buy more than you can handle.

Buy "ugly" or irregular fruits and vegetables. They are just as good, but a little different.

Store food at a temperature between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius for maximum freshness and shelf life.

Try to use the products you have bought before. In the refrigerator, move the older products to the front and put the newer ones in the back.

Some food waste may be unavoidable, so why not install a compost bin?

Donate the surplus, sharing is living.

FAO reports that, globally, the volume of food waste is estimated at 1.6 billion tonnes in primary product equivalent. While the total waste of food for the edible part of this volume is equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes.