A new initiative to improve global measurement and reduction of food waste was introduced last week by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Food Policy Research Institute and the CGIAR research program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets.
The G20 agriculture ministers requested FAO and IFPRI to launch this initiative in Istanbul, Turkey, this past May.
The "Technical Platform on the Measurement and Reduction of Food Loss and Waste" is an information-sharing and coordination network involving diverse stakeholders, such as international organizations, development banks, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.
Platform partners will work together to enhance the measurement of food loss and waste, exchange knowledge and information, and share best practices to tackle the global challenges of food loss and waste.
"The G20 Platform will enhance our capacity to accurately measure food loss and waste, both in the G20 countries and in low-income countries," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. "It will bring new expertise and knowledge for improving metrics. It will also respond to countries' need for knowledge and good practices."
Currently, one-third of global food production – enough food to feed two billion people for a year – is lost or wasted annually. The G20 agriculture ministers noted the significant food loss and waste throughout food value chains as "a global problem of enormous economic, environmental and societal significance."
The platform will:
• Lead efforts to improve the measurement of food loss and waste
• Build capacity to reduce food loss and waste in G20 countries as well as in lower-income nations. This capacity building effort includes "South-South" knowledge transfers
• Provide evidence-based advocacy on the scope, causes and costs of food loss and waste
• Monitor global developments on food loss and waste
• Provide multi-agency advisory and technical assistance for work on food loss and waste at the request of governments
Fighting hunger by saving food >>
Fighting hunger by saving food
Around 800 million people in the world suffer from hunger. Undernutrition remains widespread with some two billion people lacking essential nutrients like iron, zinc and vitamin A.
Food is lost when it is spoiled or spilled before reaching the final product or retail stage. It is wasted when it spoils during retailing or is discarded by consumers.
Most food loss takes place in post-production, harvesting, transportation and storage and is primarily related to inadequate infrastructure in developing countries. On the other hand, food waste is a problem in the marketing and consumption stages in developed countries.
IFPRI studies have found that infrastructure development is essential to achieve lower post-harvest food loss. Cutting food loss, however, is not a low-cost alternative to achieving food security and nutrition. Rather, large-scale reduction in post-harvest food loss requires public and private investments and also supports the long-term productivity growth which contributes to food security.
FAO estimates that over 40% of root crops, fruits and vegetables are lost or wasted, along with 35% of fish, 30% of cereals and 20% of oilseeds, meat, and dairy products. Total food waste represents an economic value of some $1 trillion annually.