London, Mar.2 : Britons are throwing about 20 million tons of food out each year, which is the equivalent of half of the food import needs for the whole of Africa.
According to a report in The Independent, about 16 million tons of food is wasted in homes, shops, restaurants, hotels and food manufacturing. Much of the rest is thought to be destroyed between the farm field and the shop shelf.
The issue has come to the fore as supermarkets fight off criticism over billions of plastic carrier bags handed out free each year.
Lord Haskins of Skidby, a former government adviser on rural affairs and chairman of Northern Foods, was quoted by the paper as saying that tackling the mountain of food wasted in Britain every year would help to preserve the environment and go some way towards feeding an expanding global population in the face of unprecedented food shortages.
Lord Haskins' estimate of the scale of food waste suggests the problem in the UK is far greater than previously imagined and came as global food prices hit new records.
The United Nation's World Food Programme has admitted it might have to ration food aid in response to rocketing global food prices that have soared by more than 75 per cent since their lows of 2000, jumping by more than a fifth last year alone, prompting riots in some countries.
Estimates that the world's population will rise by 30 per cent over the next 50 years to around 8.5 billion have raised the spectre of a global food shortage too big for farmers to meet.
A spokesman for the British Retail Consortium said: "Retailers are working closely with suppliers to minimise waste through analysing the supply chain."
The Independent on Sunday's top 10 tips to help you cut that food-waste mountain rotting in your bin:
1. Buy less if you don't think you can eat it: smaller joints, loose vegetables rather than pre-packed bags that are too big - and try not to fall for quite so many buy-one-get-one-free offers.
2. Use your imagination with leftovers: that half a roast-chicken would make a perfect pie, sandwich filling or form the basis for a salad.
3. Don't let vegetables rot in the bottom of the fridge: even older vegetables make decent soups, casseroles or curries.
4. Remember to cancel that vegetable box if you're going to be dining out a lot that week.
5. Don't over-order in restaurants; if you do, make like an American and ask for a doggy bag.
6. Use common sense rather than use-by dates when deciding what to throw away.
7. Become friends with your freezer: make your own frozen ready-meals with last night's leftovers or any food that you have overbought.
8. Whiz up older fruit into a smoothie or bake it in a pudding.
9. Look out for the new plastic bags that will give your vegetables a longer lease of life in your fridge.
10. Try and shop more frequently so that you buy what you need, rather than rely on one major shopping trip.