food 3190171


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Reducing food loss and waste

Food that is made unavailable for human consumption between the field and the fork is referred to as food loss or waste. Food loss and waste has become a highly visible global issue with the United Nations setting a responsible consumption and production target (SDG12) to reduce by half “the per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses”.

Food is accidentally or intentionally lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial production through to final household consumption. Loss can occur from poor harvesting practices, inadequate storage and packing facilities, or from ineffective transportation infrastructure, as well as poorly designed institutional and legal frameworks. In low-income countries it's estimated that 2% -18% of cereal crops and up to 50% of fruit and vegetable crops are lost post-harvest.

Food loss and waste have a host of environmental impacts, including unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and the inefficient use of inputs such as water, energy, land etc., which in turn can lead to diminished natural ecosystems and the services they provide.

    Up to one third of all food is spoiled or squandered before it is consumed by people

    At the consumer end, food waste occurs when food fit for human consumption is discarded by retailers or consumers for reasons such as spoilage from improper storage, poor cooking and buying habits, as well as disposal after sell-by-date expiry. A recent study carried out by the European Commission, published February 2018, estimated that up to 10% of the 88 million tonnes of food waste generated annually in the EU is linked to date marking and misinterpretations by consumers of the meaning of these dates. 

    FAO (2015) estimated yearly global food loss and waste at roughly:

    • 30% of cereals,
    • 40–50% of root crops, fruits & vegetables,
    • 20% of oilseeds, meat & dairy products,
    • 35% of fish.

    How are the FAO trying to combat food loss and waste?



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