FAO claims new platform to help fight food loss, wastage

Global body estimates that 14% of food is lost annually and leads to emission of around 1.5 gigatonnes of CO2

By Meenakshi Sushma
Published: Friday 31 July 2020

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has unveiled a new platform to help accelerate global reduction in food loss and waste. The platform will contain information on measurement, reduction policies, alliances, actions and examples of successful models applied to reduce food loss and waste.

“Wasting food means wasting scarce natural resources, increasing climate change impacts and missing the opportunity to feed a growing population in the future,” said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu.

The platform will be officially launched on the first International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste on 29 September, 2020.

Food loss vs food wastage

There is a difference between food wastage and food losses. Food is wasted when it is discarded by consumers or is disposed of in retail due to its inability to meet quality standards. Food loss, on the other hand, occurs when it is spoilt or spilled before reaching the final product or retail stage.

For example, dairy, meat, and fish can go bad in transit because of inadequate refrigerated transport and cold storage facilities.

According to FAO:

At least 14 per cent of food is lost (food wastage and food loss together), valued at $400 billion annually. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, the food that is lost is associated with around 1.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Major losses are seen in roots tubers and oil-bearing crops (25 per cent), fruits and vegetables (22 per cent), and meat and animal products (12 per cent).

“Food loss and waste is a sign of food systems in distress. Nutritious foods are the most perishable, and hence, the most vulnerable to loss. Not only food is being lost, but food safety and nutrition are being compromised as well,” said Lawrence Haddad, executive director of The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition

How will it work

The platform is as a gateway to information on food loss and waste from various resources, including the largest online collection of data on what food is lost and wasted; examples of successful initiatives as well as food waste and losses a policy brief in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic; and few tips on what everyone can do to reduce food waste.

 Links to related portals from development partners are also provided.

“Addressing food loss and waste with accurate information and evidence at the country level is an attempt to create a food system that delivers on planetary health and human health,” said Geeta Sethi, advisor, and global lead for food systems at the World Bank.

She added: “But to know what is a policy priority for a country, and therefore investments and interventions that are needed, requires good data and evidence. This platform is very relevant.”

The FAO chief urged public and the private sectors and individuals to promote, harness and scale-up policies, innovation and technologies to reduce food loss and waste.

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