Despite the fact that one in nine people in the world suffer from malnutrition, up to one third of the world's food production goes to waste. It is 1.3 billion tonnes in total. In the European Union alone, 88 million tonnes of food a year are thrown out. That means that every European throws away 173 kilograms of food a year. In the Czech Republic, the largest amount of food is wasted in households, and people often underestimate the dumping of food.
explained sociologist Radka Hanzlová from the Center for Public Opinion Research of the Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. During August, the institute interviewed 979 people as part of the AV21 Strategy Food for the Future program.
The problem of wasting food occurrs in all parts of the distribution chain, but it's at its worst in households - they account for as much as 53 percent of wasted food. Yet people often underestimate the dumping of food at home. More than a third of the respondents identified households as the places with the least food wasted.
"We can therefore conclude that Czech respondents tend to underestimate the role of households and shift the blame on someone else,"
added Hanzlová. More than half of the respondents believe that they throw away a maximum of one tenth of food. Less than a fifth of them stated that they never throw away any food.
"One of the most common reasons for throwing out food is deteriorating quality. When food spoils, the expiration date passes, the food no longer looks all that good,"
Hanzlová explained. Another reason why food ends up in the trash can is the fact that people don't understand the labels on the packaging. According to European Union research, up to 10 percent of wasted food is thrown away for this very reason.
There are two different indicators on the packaging and people often confuse them. While "minimum durability" means the date until which the food retains its declared quality, "use by" indicates the time until which the food can be consumed safely. And Czech consumers are not clear about them. Less than half of the respondents then attach the same meaning to "minimum durability" as "use by". According to Hanzlová, however, it is positive that the share of these people is gradually declining.
"Less than a quarter of respondents are interested in the problematics of packaging the food they buy comes in. The vast majority stated that they were not interested in this issue," said Hanzlová. Therefore, more than half of the respondents do not avoid any packaging material.
"We can interpret the results as follows: qualitative and economic aspects are important for the Czech public when shopping for food, but they do not attach too much importance to ecological ones,"
"Schedule the meals you plan to cook during the week, check your supplies, make a list, and shop at the store accordingly,"
Hanzlová advises. She believes it's good to shop according to a list, without allowing oneself to be tempted by discounts or family packaging. She also recommens not to go shopping while hungry. Ideally, you should buy seasonal foods, including imperfect pieces of fruit and vegetables. Proper storage of food is equally important.
It is also advisable not to put unnecessarily large portions on one's place and regularly tidy up items in the refrigerator according to their expiration date.