Reducing Food Loss and Waste – WRI report

Screen-Shot-2013-06-15-at-9.13.31-PMThis June, a group of people from the World Resources Institute under the supervision of Brian Lipinski carried out a review giving us a broad look at the issue of food waste. You can find the full document here.  The data used for the study was taken from the FAO database that was recently updated with a simpler design.  I really recommend a visit to their site because one can find many interesting and useful information related to food production or consumption (

The study puts a lot of importance into the need to differentiating food waste by volume and by caloric value.  Looking at food waste by we see that 32% of all produced food is thrown away. However, considering only its caloric value the situation looks a little bit better, because it amounts to 24% of all produced food waste. If the current rate of food waste would be cut in half (to 12%) in 2050, when we are going to be 9 billion, the world would need around 1,314 trillion kilocalories less food per year than it would if we’d continue the way the current food system works. However, these 1,314 trillion kcal are only 22% of the 6,000 trillion kcal per year gap between food available today and needed in 2050. This is why food waste reduction could be an important strategy to making sure that there is enough food to feed the whole world in the coming years. The working paper outlined some recommendations to help implement this strategy:

1. Develop a food loss and waste measurement protocol

2. Set food loss and waste reduction targets

3. Increase investment in reducing postharvest losses in developing countries

4. Create entities devoted to reducing food waste in developed countries (such as Love Food, Hate Waste)

5. Accelerate and support collaborative initiatives to reduce food loss and waste.

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 10.59.33 AMAmong other very interesting information provided by the study we could also observe data of food waste divided by commodities. Looking at the caloric value the produce that is most wasted are cereals. It is not,maybe, a shocking piece of information considering its small weight. Another reason for the 53% is that cereals are the most common produce in the whole world and moreover are the cheapest caloric input we can find. Considering the environmental impact of meat production it is good to see that there is relatively little meat loss in the world (only 7%).  Looking at food waste by weight the situation change drastically. 44% of all wasted food stands for fruits and vegetables. It is mostly due to their richness in water. A cucumber consists of 97% of water so its caloric value is really small compared to its weight.

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 11.00.07 AMThese are only some of the many interesting data analysis given by the authors of the study. You can also find many solutions for food waste reduction.  A relevant importance is given to postharvest waste, which we will cover in the next blog post at Say No To Food Waste.


Posted by Piotr Wielezynski

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