PHILIPPINE households wasted nearly 3 million tonnes of food a year, down sharply from 2021 totals, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a report.

According to the UNEP’s 2024 Food Waste Index Report, Philippine household food waste amounted to 2.95 million tonnes a year, or 26 kilograms (kg) per capita.

The 2024 report finding is 68.35% lower than the 9.33 million tonnes/year reported in 2021.

The Food Waste Index measures the amount of food and its inedible parts wasted in retail, food service, and households.

The household sector worldwide accounted for 60% or 631 million tonnes of wasted food, followed by food service at 28% (or 290 million tonnes) and retail 12% (or 131 million tonnes).

“Not only is this a major development issue, but the impacts of such unnecessary waste are causing substantial costs to the climate and nature,” UNEP executive director Inger Angersen said in a statement.

Philippine per-capita household food waste is also lower than the Southeast Asian average of 70 kilograms.

The UNEP also measured the amount of food waste in three provinces within the Philippines. It reported that Cagayan De Oro had a food waste estimate of 26 kg/per capita in a year, Legazpi at 33 kg/per capita, and Ormoc at 18 kg/per capita.

The report also found out that countries with higher temperatures generate more food waste per capita in households, citing the potential for food to spoil, as well as insufficient cold storage facilities.

“The data confirms that food waste is not just a ‘rich country’ problem, with levels of household food waste differing in observed average levels for high-income, upper-middle, and lower-middle- income countries by just 7 kg per capita,” according to the report.

Household food waste in the Philippines may have declined due to improved distribution facilities like farm-to-market roads and storage, said Ateneo De Manila economics professor Leonardo A. Lanzona.

However, the continued surge food prices is attributed to middleman control of the supply chain, especially in distribution.

“This suggests that the farmers do not have much access to these facilities. The middlemen who distribute these farm products are able to utilize these facilities to their advantage,” Mr. Lanzona said in a Facebook Messenger chat.

Food inflation in February accelerated to 4.8% from 3.3% in January, mainly due to rice prices, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The government should ensure that farmers gain equal access to distribution facilities to ease prices and avoid food waste, according to Mr. Lanzona.

Governments are also urged to engage in public-private partnerships to ensure all stakeholders participate in reducing wastage in the food supply chain, according to the report. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz