Jakarta – Inefficient processing, storage, transportation, as well as wastage at the consumer's level have led Indonesia to throw away around 23 to 48 million metric tons of food every year, an amount that is enough to address the country's malnourishment problem, according to a report published on Wednesday.
The report, titled 'Food Loss and Waste in Indonesia', drew the conclusion after looking at 20 years worth of data to estimate food loss and waste at five stages of the country's food supply chain and consumption.
Indonesians lost or wasted around 115-184 kilogram of food per capita per year on average, according to the study, which conducted by the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) in collaboration with think-tank World Resources Institute and a management consulting firm Waste for Change.
Most of the food loss occurred in the processing, storing, transporting, and selling of food crops, particularly grains. In contrast, most of the food waste occurred in the consumption stage when leftover food on the dining table is thrown away.
All those foods lost or wasted contain key nutrients, including energy, protein, vitamin A, and iron, which, in aggregate, could meet the nutrient requirements of 61-125 million people per year.
"Loss of nutritional content from food loss and waste, if utilized, can meet almost 100 percent of the nutritional needs of people who are malnourished in Indonesia" Arifin Rudiyanto, the deputy for maritime affairs and natural resources at the National Development Planning Ministry/Agency (Bappenas) on Wednesday.
He said, for example, food loss and waste caused a loss of energy of 618-989 kilocalories (kcal) per person per day. That is 29-47 percent of the recommended calorie intake of 2,100 kcal suggested by the Health Ministry.
According to data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), from 2019, 24 million Indonesian were unable to meet the minimum requirement of daily calorie intake – defined as 1,400 kcal per day or 70 percent of the recommended level.
Apart from the nutritional losses, food loss and waste also put a dent in Indonesia's economy. The study estimated 4-5 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), or Rp 213-551 trillion ($15-39 billion) per year, lost due to the inefficient food supply chain and wastage in food consumption.
In addition, the food waste often ended in landfills, creating greenhouse gases like methane that undermine Indonesia's commitment to reduce its greenhouse emission by 29 percent from business as usual scenario by 2030.
"For 20 years, the total greenhouse gas emissions from food loss and waste were 1,703 megatons of carbon dioxide-equivalent. The biggest contributor is the consumption stage at 58 percent," Arifin said,
Arifin said there were many opportunities for both public and private enterprises to address the food waste problem. These include implementing good handling practices, optimal storage space, and quality standards on food items.
There were also opportunities to recognize consumer preferences regarding their food choices to minimize wastage. Education about food wastage aimed at workers and consumers could also address the problem, Arifin said.