Challenges for policy and research to reduce food loss and waste
BY SWATI MALHOTRA AND ROB VOS
Food loss and waste is a substantial global problem, yet we still lack good estimates of how much is occurring. A 2011 FAO estimate indicates that as much as one third of all food is either lost at the farm, trade, or processing stages or wasted at the retail or consumer end; a 2019 FAO estimate put the number at 14% of global food production. Food waste may well be higher than originally thought. A recent UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report on food waste estimates 931 million metric tons of food—17% of global production—is wasted at the retail, food services, and consumer level, about 60% of that from households. Remarkably, while food losses are mainly a problem in lower income countries, the level of food waste is roughly the same in low and high income countries. While these numbers are projections from still limited observations, it is reasonable to say that about 30% of all global food is either lost or wasted.
Photo credit: Ted van den Bergh