A new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) signals an alarming reversal in momentum.

While in 2015 the number of people suffering from hunger around the world fell below 800 million, following years of decline despite population growth, in 2016 world hunger spiked.

The most recent estimates indicate that global hunger now affects 815 million people, including 520m in Asia, 243m in Africa, and 42m in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World attributes the sudden increase in hunger to the proliferation of violent conflicts and climate change.

This year’s edition of the report marks the beginning of a regular monitoring of progress towards achieving the food security and nutrition targets set by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016-2025, which call on all countries and stakeholders to act together to end hunger and prevent all forms of malnutrition by 2030.

Paradoxically, global food production is in fact enough to feed everyone in the world, and one third of the food produced globally is wasted. That is an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food throughout the supply chain every year, from agricultural production losses to consumer waste.

Population growth is an added challenge – in order to feed another two billion people in the world in 2050, food production will need to increase by 50 percent globally, the report adds.

One of the most sustainable alternatives to increasing food production is to reduce food losses. Food loss reduction alone has a remarkable potential to increase the efficiency of the whole food chain.

Packaging plays a key role in food security as a technology able to increase the amount of food available to the world. And within packaging, cans play an unmatchable role in preserving and delivering food to places of need because of their unrivalled product protection, shelf-life and energy-free preservation.

Mónica Higuera