During his weekly address in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis denounced our “culture of waste” in an increasingly consumerist world, telling his audience that throwing away food is like stealing from poor people.

The Pope has expressed concern that too much focus on money and materialism means that financial market dips are viewed as tragedies, while human suffering has become normal and ignored.

"In this way people are discarded as if they were garbage," he said.

"Our grandparents used to make a point of not throwing away leftover food. Consumerism has made us accustomed to wasting food daily and we are unable to see its real value. Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry," the Irish Independent reports.

Since taking office in March 2013, Pope Francis has said that he wants the 1.2-billion-strong Roman Catholic Church to defend defend the poor and to practise greater austerity itself and has also made several calls for global financial reform.

According to the United Nations’ food agency, around 1.3 billion tonnes of food (one third of what is produced for human consumption) gets lost or wasted every year. A U.N. backed study released on Wednesday said simple measures such as better storage and reducing over-sized portions would sharply reduce the vast amount of food going to waste.

The majority of waste is produced by consumers who buy too much and have to throw away what they do not eat. A report by the World Resources Institute and the U.N. Environment Programme writes that, in the U.S., diners waste nine percent of the meals  purchased partly because of the trend to increase the size of portions.

The United Nations says hunger affects some 870 million people, while 2 billion suffer from at least one nutritional deficiency. Pope Francis has said that this "culture of waste" is especially deplorable given the prevalence of hunger in the world, the Independent.ie reports.

Pope Francis wears the red and white pallium around his neck during his Installation Mass in St. Peter's Square, March 19, 2013.Dan Kitwood/Getty Images