AS much as half of all the food produced in the world – about 2billion tonnes – ends up being thrown away, according to a report published last week by the UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

The report blames unnecessarily strict sell-by dates, buy-one-get-one free deals and demand for 'cosmetically perfect food' as well as “poor engineering and agricultural practices”, inadequate infrastructure and poor storage facilities.

The Global Food; Waste Not, Want Not report said that between 30 per cent and 50 per cent of food produced around the world never makes it on to a plate. In the UK as much as 30 per cent of vegetable crops are not harvested as they fail to meet standards on physical appearance, the report adds.

But it is not just producers and supermarkets that are adding to the waste – in Cambridgeshire figures show half of the food wasted each year in the county comes from residents.

Figures from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Waste Partnership show the average home dumps 200kg of food each year in their waste collection.

– Food makes up about 20 per cent of total waste collected from the kerbside

– Almost half of the food thrown away in the UK comes from homes

– The average family with children wastes £680 a year

– Estimate xxx tonnes of food still gets wasted each year

– This has been reduced by 520 tonnes per year through programmes run by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Waste Partnership

– Estimated figures based on data collected in 2008 and national trends

Top tips for on how to reduce your household food waste:

– Planning: Write a shopping list and try making a weekly meal planner

– Get the perfect portions: cook and serve the right amount to save throwing away food

– Storage: know how to storing food to keep it fresher for longer, and make use of your fridge and freezer

– Know you dates: get to grips with the difference between use by, sell by and best before

– Keep a well stocked store cupboard. This reduces the amount of fresh food you have to keep in your house.

– For help reducing food waste visit www.lovefoodhatewaste.com