India should heed John Oliver’s message and stop wasting insane amounts of food

One-quarter of the world’s undernourished live in India.
One-quarter of the world’s undernourished live in India.
Image: Reuters/Stringer
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

This week, TV host and comedian John Oliver, had some brutal statistics to tell America.

The world’s largest economy wastes as much as $165 billion (Rs10.49 lakh crore) worth of food every year. The quantity of food wasted is enough to fill up 730 football stadiums. On top of that, almost 50 million people—or about one-sixth of its population—live in food-insecure households.

Alarmed by these numbers, many Indians have also been sharing the video on social media.

Probably because the story isn’t any different in India: Asia’s third largest economy also wastes an insane amount of food, even though some of the hungriest people in the world live here.

India wasted as much as 40% of its total food produce annually as of 2013, according to a written statement given to India’s parliament by former agriculture minister Sharad Pawar.

And this is just the beginning of a long list of rather grim numbers:

India’s annual wastage of food is worth Rs58,000 crore ($9 billion)

Each year, 21 million metric tonnes of wheat—almost equal to Australia’s production—rots in India due to improper storage.

One-quarter of the world’s undernourished live in India

Almost 44% of Indian children are underweight, while 48% under the age of three, are stunted according to UNICEF.

India ranks 55 out of 76 countries on the Global Hunger Index

Although India has improved from its last year’s ranking (63), it still trails behind its much poorer neighbours, Nepal (44) and Sri Lanka (39). The Global Hunger Index measures and tracks hunger globally, by country and region.

India is worse than China

According to the United Nations, India is estimated to use more than 230 cubic kilometres of fresh water annually—enough to provide drinking water to 100 million people a year—for producing food items that are ultimately wasted. China is second with 140 cubic km.

We welcome your comments at