Knowledge for better food systems

The State of Food and Agriculture 2019: Food waste

The 2019 edition of The State of Food and Agriculture report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations focuses on actions to reduce food loss and food waste. It sets out guidance for how policymakers can tailor food waste initiatives to suit their policy aims.

The report covers:

  • Definitions and ways of measuring food loss and food waste.
  • Variation in levels, causes and monitoring of food loss and waste between countries and stages of the supply chain.
  • The business case for reducing food loss and waste, and barriers that some stakeholders may face in implementing food loss and waste reduction programmes.
  • Other reasons to cut food loss and waste, including (according to the report) increased productivity and economic growth, better food security, and reduced environmental impacts per unit of food consumption.
  • Discussion of whether reducing food loss and waste leads to higher or lower overall food production and consumption (and therefore environmental impacts), through changes to food prices that may result from reducing waste and loss.
  • Guiding principles for policymakers in how to target food loss and waste reduction to achieve different aims, such as food security or environmental protection.

Read the full report, The State of Food and Agriculture 2019: Moving forward on food loss and waste reduction, here (PDF link). See also the Foodsource building block What is food loss and food waste?

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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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