Food losses refer to the decrease in edible food mass available for human consumption throughout the different segments of the supply chain. In addition to quantitative losses, food products can also face a deterioration of quality, leading to a loss of economic and nutritional value. Food waste refers to food losses resulting from decisions to discard food that still has value. Food waste is most often associated with the behaviour of retailers, the food service sector and consumers, but food waste and losses take place all along food supply chains.
Accurate estimations of the magnitude of losses and waste are still lacking, particularly in developing countries. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the levels of food loss and waste remain unacceptably high. Recent studies commissioned by FAO estimated yearly global quantitative food losses and waste at roughly 30% for cereals; 40–50% for root crops, fruits and vegetables; 20% for oilseeds, meat and dairy; and 30% for fish.
FAO leads the SAVE FOOD: Global Initiative on Food Losses and Waste Reduction
FAO is collaborating with donors, bi- and multi-lateral agencies and financial institutions (UNIDO, African Development Bank, World Bank, IFAD, WFP, EU) and private sector partners (the food packaging industry and others) to develop and implement the programme on food loss and waste reduction.
The start-up plan for this global initiative rests on four main pillars:
Collaboration among the Rome-based UN agencies and key partners. This involves mobilizing resources as well as conceiving and implementing activities under the initiative;
The SAVE FOOD initiative, which aims to promote networking among stakeholders in the food industry (including the packaging industry, policy makers and researchers) with a view towards developing solutions to reduce food losses and waste along food supply chains. An important component is a worldwide media campaign that is aimed at increasing awareness of food losses and food waste at global level.
Evidence-based policy and investment support. A series of field surveys will be conducted on a regional basis, combining a food chain approach to loss assessments with cost-benefit analyses in order to determine which food loss reduction interventions provide the best returns on investment. The programme will focus on the core subsectors where losses are known to be a serious issue: food grains, fruits and vegetables, roots and tubers, milk, meat and fish. The field surveys will result in investment programmes and projects to implement the food loss reduction actions.
Regional SAVE FOOD Congresses. The regional dimensions of food losses and waste will be studied. Appropriate solutions will be presented and discussed at regional congresses involving a broad range of stakeholders, with a view towards raising interest and mobilizing funding for the implementation of regional food loss and waste reduction programmes.
FAO welcomes partners – private or public – to join the Save Food Initiative and support its programme.
For more information visit www.save-food.org.