One-third of the food produced worldwide is wasted, costing the global economy around $750 billion a year, a new report by the U.N. food agency said.
The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Wednesday some 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted every year, with the Asia region including China seen as the worst culprit.
The amount of the wasted food is equivalent to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Switzerland, the director general, Jose Graziano da Silva, said.
"We simply cannot allow one-third of all the food we produce to go to waste or be lost because of inappropriate practices, when 870 million people go hungry every day," da Silva added.
Achim Steiner, head of the United Nation's Environment Program (UNEP), described it as "a staggering phenomenon."
"It will take less than 37 years to add another two billion people to the global population. How on earth will we feed ourselves in the future?" he asked.
Steiner said that eliminating food wastage had "enormous potential" to reduce hunger and called on citizens to take individual action to tackle the issue.
"Each year, food that is produced but not eaten is adding 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases to the planet's atmosphere," the FAO said.
"Food wastage reduction would not only avoid pressure on scarce natural resources but also decrease the need to raise food production" to meet the demands of a fast-growing world population, it said.
Produced but uneaten food occupies 30 percent of the world's farmland, the report said.