Food waste: Causes, impacts and proposals
Food for sustainable growth
This paper is a timely analysis of a complex phenomenon, food waste, which is one of the main global paradoxes. The paper highlights the discovery of waste at every level of the agri-food industry, of the long road to improvement in food production and consumption, and possible solutions.
In 2011, FAO estimated that food waste worldwide amounts to 1.3 billion tons a year, equal to one-third of total food production allocated for human consumption; another research study (Smil, 2010) indicates that only 43% of the caloric equivalent of products cultivated for food purposes worldwide are directly consumed by people.
Food waste is defined in different ways by institutions and in specialized literature. Although there is no standardized definition of the phenomenon, or any homogeneous and comparable data.
BCFN distinguishes among:
- Food losses are the losses that occur upstream in the food supply chain, mainly during the sowing, cultivation, harvesting, processing, preserving, and initial stages of agricultural transformation;
- Food Waste is the waste that takes place during industrial processing, distribution, and final consumption.
Looking only at waste in the home, and using various national data sources (which are not always entirely comparable), we find that the amount wasted per person per year is: 110 kg of edible food in the United States, 108 in Italy, 99 in France, 82 in Germany, and 72 in Sweden.
In developing countries, food waste occurs mostly through losses upstream in the production chain.
How can we prevent a phenomenon that is systemic in nature? In the paper “Food Waste: Causes, Impacts and Suggestions,” BCFN identifies some possible paths to prevent food waste through information, diet education, and the involvement of governments and institutions and producers and distributors.