Around 14 per cent of the world's food is lost after harvesting and before reaching the retail level, including impacts by on-farm activities, storage and transportation, according to the report The State of Food and Agriculture 2019 - Moving forward on food loss and waste reduction published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in mid-October.
The report provides insights into how much food is lost - as well as where and why - at different stages of the food supply chain, calls for informed decisions for an effective reduction and offers new ways to measure progress.
Food losses vary considerably from one region to another within the same commodity groups and supply chain stages. Losses and waste are generally higher for fruit and vegetables than for cereals and pulses at all stages in the food supply chain, with the exception of on-farm losses and those during transportation in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia.
In lower-income countries, higher fresh fruit and vegetable loss is attributed to poor infrastructure – more than in industrialised countries. In fact, many lower-income countries lose significant amounts of food during storage, often due to poor storage facilities, including refrigerated warehouses.
The report highlights the need to measure carefully losses at each stage in the food supply chain, and puts forward a new methodology. Such measurements will help to identify critical loss points across the supply chain. Critical points are where food losses have the highest magnitude, the greatest impact on food security and the largest economic dimensions. Measuring the impact will help identify appropriate actions for loss reduction.
Another aspect covered is the importance of reducing food waste at the retail and consumption levels which is linked to limited shelf life and consumer behaviour, such as demanding food products that meet aesthetic standards and limited incentive to avoid food waste.
The results are given from a number of FAO case studies for identifying critical loss points. They indicate that harvesting is the most frequently identified critical loss point for all types of food. Inadequate storage facilities and poor handling practices were also named among the main causes of on-farm storage losses. For fruit, roots and tubers, packaging and transportation also appear to be critical.
More information and download the report The State of Food and Agriculture 2019: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1238015/icode/