Food Waste: Where and How Much?

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About one-third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption gets lost or wasted annually (FAO, 2011)

Food is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial agricultural production down to final household consumption:

  • Agricultural production
  • Post-harvest handling and Storage
  • Processing
  • Distribution
  • Consumption

Food loss and waste amount to a major waste of resources, including water, land, energy, generating unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions. As FAO reports, fruit and vegetables are the most wasted products accounting for up to  45% .

Rich vs. Developing Countries

Industrialised and developing countries dissipate roughly the same quantities of food. However, in medium and high-income countries food is wasted and lost mainly at later stages in the supply chain. In developing countries food waste and losses occur mainly at early stages of the food value chain and can be traced back to financial, managerial and technical constraints in harvesting techniques as well as storage and cooling facilities. This means that the behaviour of consumers in industrialised countries plays a huge part. In fact,  in Europe and North-America per capita food wasted by consumers is 95-115 kg/year, while  in sub-Saharan Africa and South/Southeast Asia it is only 6-11 kg/year. Food losses in industrialised countries are as high as in developing countries, but in developing countries more than 40% of the food losses occur at post-harvest and processing levels, while in industrialised countries, more than 40% of the food losses occur at retail and consumer levels.

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Source: FAO “Global food losses and food waste

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