Knowledge for better food systems

Global Food Security Programme Food Waste report

This report from Global Food Security programme (GFS) entitled ‘Food waste within global food systems’ discusses how reduction of losses and waste throughout the entire food system can contribute to achieving global food security. It provides an independent assessment of the issues around food waste in developing and developed countries and suggests a number of potential future research priorities across the food supply chain.

This report from Global Food Security programme (GFS) entitled ‘Food waste within global food systems’ discusses how reduction of losses and waste throughout the entire food system can contribute to achieving global food security. It provides an independent assessment of the issues around food waste in developing and developed countries and suggests a number of potential future research priorities across the food supply chain.

The report adopts a global perspective, discussing the incidence and causes of food losses in developing low-income, transition and in high-income countries - with a focus on the UK.  In developing countries, food is largely wasted at the pre- and post-harvest stage, before the farm gate. Pre-harvest losses occur through significant yield and livestock losses, from a lack of resilience due to basic agricultural inefficiencies and through technological limitations. Post-harvest losses (PHLs) in developing countries are sizeable due to poor storage facilities and frequent infestation from rodents, pests and diseases.

In comparison, within the UK post-production supply-chain, nearly three quarters of food waste occurs at the consumer stage; with two thirds of this being ‘avoidable’ waste. The manufacturing stage accounts for about a quarter of all waste generated and most of this is inedible and hence unavoidable produce. In contrast, food losses from within distribution and retail average just 3% of total losses.

The report is based on an extensive literature, the findings of a survey circulated to a number of interested parties within the food system and over 40 consultations with GFS partner organisations and external stakeholders. It concludes by making a series of recommendations for further research and by identifying current challenges throughout the supply chain in developed countries; from food production, through to food processing, packaging and retail and it suggests where future priorities should be focused in order to tackle these.

Citation

Bond, M., Meacham, T., Bhunnoo, R. and Benton, T.G. (2013) Food waste within global food systems. A Global Food Security report

Read the full report using this link.

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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