China’s International Conference on Food Loss and Waste will conclude today. Food waste is a critical issue for China and
China’s International Conference on Food Loss and Waste will conclude today.
Food waste is a critical issue for China and its international image. Culturally, the Chinese tend to over-purchase or over-prepare food when hosting guests to show respect and to ensure that there is always plenty for the guest. This cultural phenomenon, along with food eating contests and the popularity of Mukbang on social media saw China produce 17 to 18 million tons of food waste in 2015, enough to feed up to 50 million people. Earlier this year, China enacted laws banning certain activities that produce excess food waste in an attempt to curtail these issues.
Food scarcity is a big problem for many East and Southeast Asian countries, and China is trying to lead efforts on using technology to increase food production to meet the demand. Excess food waste at home damages China’s image as a responsible leader in this domain.
This year’s new laws will likely stop Mukbang videos and eating contests, but will not address the engrained cultural proclivity for excess food. Long-term, China will need to break this cultural norm, something that may be discussed today, to reduce its food loss and waste issues.
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