Sustainable agriculture

Food wastage

Image: CIAT

There are estimates that roughly one-third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally. This can be caused both by losses in the product’s value chain or by wastage on the consumers side. It is often suggested that limiting food wastage has a positive impact on food security. However, these general studies do not provide direct linkages. This Knowledge Portal topic highlights examples of wastage reduction and the effects on food and nutrition security in the short and long term.

The Food & Business Knowledge Platform is also actively involved in this theme. Please have a look at the theme page on food wastage for the latest news, events, and our own publications.

Academic article Article Booklet/ Brochure Discussion paper Policy report Publication Report
Africa Asia Benin Burkina Faso Ethiopia Europe Ghana Global Ivory Coast Kenya Latin America Malawi Mali Middle East Nigeria North Africa Pakistan Sub-Saharan Africa Togo West Africa
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Safe storage of maize in alternative hermetic containers
Published by Journal of Stored Products Research,
This article evaluated plastic bottles, which may be hermetically sealed, for storing maize grain. Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags have been developed and extended as a way to address grain storage issues faced by smallholder farmers in developing nations. Farmers with varying and often small volumes of grain at harvest, may still benefit from alternatives to PICS bags for storing their grain. »
Food losses and waste: Navigating the inconsistencies
Published by Global Food Security Journal,
This article addresses the question of food losses and waste (FLW), which has been the subject of much debate. When it comes to food security, the preservation of natural resources and potential economic benefits, the general public, scientists and politicians all agree that FLW needs to be reduced. However, there are numerous inconsistencies in terms of how the problem of FLW has been presented and analysed. »
Sorghum seed storage in Purdue Improved Crop Storage bags and improvised containers
Published by Journal of Stored Products Research,
This article elaborates on options for seed storage for smallholder farmers and specifically looks at multiple uses for the Purdue Improved Crop Storage bags and improvised containers and their efficiency. Seed storage is a major challenge for smallholder farmers in developing nations. »
Food loss and waste in Sub-Saharan Africa
Published by Food Policy Journal,
This article reviews the current state of the literature on post-harvest losses mitigation. Four objectives to reduce post-harverst loss levels are: improved food security, food safety, profitability and reduced unnecessary resource use. There is a lack of consensus on the estimated magnitude of post-harverst losses... »
Losses, inefficiencies and waste in the global food system
Published by Agricultural systems,
This article aims to better understand the magnitude of food losses in different stages in the food system and provides insights into how these influence overall food system efficiency. A systems view is taken from primary production of agricultural biomass through to human food requirements and consumption. The highest rates of loss are associated with livestock production, although the largest absolute losses of biomass occur prior to harvest. Over-eating was found to be at least as large a contributor to food system losses as consumer food waste. »
Measuring postharvest losses at the farm level in Malawi
Published by IFPRI,
This article measures farmlevel postharvest losses for three main crops—maize, soy, and groundnuts—among 1,200 households in Malawi. To optimally design interventions targeted at reducing losses, it is important to know where losses are concentrated between the farm and fork. Farmers answered a detailed questionnaire about losses during harvest and transport, processing, and storage. The findings indicate that fewer than half of households report suffering losses conditional on growing each crop. »
Small-scale fisheries in the context of traditional post-harvest practice and the quest for food and nutritional security in Nigeria
Published by Agriculture & Food Security Journal,
This article examines the post-harvest practices of small-scale fisheries in Nigeria and the contribution of these fisheries to food and nutrition security. Small-scale fisheries are the dominant source of local fish production in Nigeria but receive limited policy attention. »
Characterization of pre- and postharvest losses of tomato supply chain in Ethiopia
Published by Agriculture & Food Security Journal,
This article presents qualitative and quantitative post-harvest losses of tomato in Ethiopia. Results indicate that tomato production is done by relatively young married individuals with at least primary level education. About three-quarter of land holding is allocated for vegetable production, which largely takes place under irrigation during dry season. »
Reducing post-harvest losses to increase the value of vegetable products
Published by NEPAD, ECOWAS,
This policy brief discusses the post-harvest losses of vegetable products in West Africa and recommendations to reduce these losses. Currently, substantial amount of vegetables products are lost through limited availability of technologies and related infrastructure for post-harvest activities. Several issues contriburing to the food loss are discussed and various recommendations are given in this policy brief to tackle the problems associated with the post-harvest losses. »
Food security: Postharvest losses
Published by Global Food Security,
This article addresses the inconsistencies in definitions and target issues of food losses and waste. In recent years, the question of food losses and waste (FLW) has been the subject of much debate. When it comes to food security, the preservation of natural resources and potential economic benefits, the general public, scientists and politicians all agree that FLW needs to be reduced. »
Measuring food waste in a dairy supply chain in Pakistan
Published by Journal of Cleaner Production,
This article provides a first attempt to test the methodological principles of the Food Waste Protocol, using the Pakistani dairy supply chain as a case study. A FLW Standard and protocol have been developed by UNEP and WRI and Nestlé actively contributes to the development and conducted a pilot project on food waste using its Pakistani dairy value chain in 2014. »
Tackling food waste around the world: Our top 10 apps
Published by The Guardian,
This article showcases apps that aim to limit food wastage, both food losses and waste. Most of the apps aim to decrease food waste, however one app, the Cheetah App developed by the researchers from the University of Twente focuses on reducing food losses. The Cheetah app, which is currently being trialed by around 80 users in Ghana, shows farmers, food transporters and traders the fastest route to market, and even shows how to avoid ad hoc roadblocks set up to take bribes from drivers. »
Reducing postharvest losses during storage of grain crops to strengthen food security in developing countries
Published by Foods,
This article provides a comprehensive literature review of the grain postharvest losses in developing countries, the status and causes of storage losses and discusses the technological interventions to reduce these losses. Storage losses account for the maximum fraction of all postharvest losses for cereals in developing countries, and negatively affect the farmers’ livelihoods. The basics of hermetic storage, various technology options, and their effectiveness on several crops in different localities are discussed in detail. »
Post-harvest handling practices and associated food losses and limitations in the sweetpotato value chain of southern Ethiopia
Published by NJAS,
This article states that establishing links between value chain constraints and food losses is essential to developing effective alleviation strategies. This study focuses on the post-harvest handling practices associated with food losses in the sweetpotato value chain of southern Ethiopia. Household food insecurity is a chronic problem in Ethiopia; the situation is being exacerbated by high population growth rates and recurring droughts in the country. »
How access to energy can influence food losses
Published by FAO,
This report reviews the evidence to date focusing on the magnitude and geographical distribution of food losses. It especially scrutinizes the role of energy in post-harvest losses and the main entry points in the food value chain where lack of access to energy is the dominant factor influencing food losses. The report outlines low cost and off-grid post-harvest cooling and processing technologies that can be made fit-to-purpose in developing countries. »
A strategy for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in the Volta Basin riparian countries’ post-harvest chains and regional trade
Published by FAO,
This report argues that fisheries and aquaculture are essential for food and nutrition security, employment, income generation and improved livelihoods in the Volta Basin, West Africa. This basin provides a significant number of fisheries and fisheries-related jobs, but operations face significant challenges including multifaceted issues, with inefficiencies at the upstream and downstream levels. »
Reducing food losses to protect domestic food security in the Middle East and North Africa
Published by African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics ,
This article investigates several policy strategies to protect domestic food security through reducing food losses. The study scrutinizes three policy responses to rising world food prices in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. »
Developing and deploying insect resistant maize varieties to reduce pre-and post-harvest food losses in Africa
Published by Food Security,
This article the use of insect resistant maize varieties to reduce post-harvest loses in Africa is explored. Maize production in Africa is constrained by various abiotic (drought, soil fertility) and biotic factors (insect pests, weeds and diseases). Stem borers and postharvest insect pests play considerable roles in reducing maize yield through damaging the leaves, stems, ears, and kernels. »
Potential impacts on sub-Saharan Africa of reducing food loss and waste in the European Union : A focus on food prices and price transmission effects
Published by FAO, LEI,
This paper investigates, by means of scenario analyses, how reductions in food loss and waste in the European Union (EU) could influence prices in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) – as a source and destination of traded agricultural and food products. Four 50 percent reduction scenarios are enacted, each focussing on a different type of food loss or waste. The analysis provides insights on potential impacts in terms of medium- to long-term global and local price changes in SSA and the mechanisms behind them (changes in production, consumption and trade patterns). »
Food waste in Kenya: Uncovering food waste in the horticultural export supply chain
Published by Feedback Global,
This report elaborates on the reasons for large amount of food waste in Kenya's horticulture sector. It reveals that Kenyan farmers are being subjected to unfair trading practices such as last minute cancellation of orders and unnecessarily strict cosmetic standards by European retail buyers resulting in massive amounts of food waste. The study finds that retailer practices, especially cosmetic standards for produce and order cancellations, are resulting in 45% of produce in Kenyan horticultural supply chains being rejected before shipment. »
Food losses and waste in the context of sustainable food systems
Published by HLPE,
This policy-oriented report presents a synthesis of existing evidence about the causes of food losses and waste and suggests action to reduce them in order to improve food and nutrition security and the sustainability of food systems. It argues that successful reduction of food losses and waste will save resources and has the potential to improve food security and nutrition, goals shared with the Zero Hunger Challenge and the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. »
Appropriate food packaging solutions for developing countries
Published by FAO,
This publication assesses the state of packaging and packaging technologies in developing countries, with the challenge of global food losses and the potential for agri-food systems as the backdrop. »
Global initiative on food loss and waste reduction
Published by FAO,
This short brochure explains the core problems related to food loss and waste and introduced the SAVE FOOD Global Initiative on Food Loss & Waste Reduction. Food loss and waste have negative environmental impacts because of the water, land, energy and other natural resources used to produce food that no one consumes. The size of the impact increases with the level of processing and refining of the food products, and the stage (upstream or downstream) in the food supply chain at which the food is lost or wasted. »
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