Have you ever wondered how much food you throw every day?
If you have never thought about this. It’s fine. It’s normal. I had not had an idea on food wastage until I started to work on a project of reducing food loss and waste along the value chain.
This is the first post in the blogging series on food loss and waste (FLW) reduction, which aims at synthesizing some emerging points in this problem. In this #1 post – FLW 101 – I will (1) list the definition of FLW in a simple and me easy-to-remember way, (2) provide some fact on what is going on with FLW. I think these two points are enough now for us to pay attention to this matter.
(My apologies in advance if my poor English does bother you those who are native speakers. Please just point out my error, I will fix it.
Btw, if you are interested in doing research on Food loss and waste, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or just leave a comment below this post). Thank you!!!
Food loss and waste Definition
Food loss and waste (FLW) definition varies worldwide (I found this is one of the most disadvantaged in FLW measurement). It is defined by several organizations from international organizations such as Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (belong to United Nation), to regional organizations the EU Commision, to national-level such as the U.S Environment Protection Agency (U.S EPA), the U.S Department of Agriculture – Economics Research Service (ERS). In food security perspective, I adopt FAO’s definition as:
Food loss refers to all decreases in food along the food supply chain from the stage when the food is ready to harvest to the final stage of consumption.
Food loss includes Food waste which predominantly occurs at the retail and consumption stage.
Therefore, food loss encompasses food waste. However, food loss mainly happened unintendedly by the poor harvest technology or inadequate infrastructure while food waste is likely discarded by consumers’ behaviors. I later will use Food loss and waste (FLW) to represent the two parts of food wastage.
Now for you to easily imagine, I will provide you with some numbers of FLW’s current situation.
- One-third of the global food produced for human consumption goes uneaten annually because of losses and waste along the food supply chain (FAO, 2011). It amounts to about 1.3 billion tons and it is equivalent to economic losses of $940 billion per year.
- In Sub-Saharan Africa, postharvest grain losses total up to $4 billion per year.
- Per capita food waste by consumers in Europe and North-America is 95-115 kg/year, while this figure in sub-Saharan Africa and South/Southeast Asia is 6-11 kg/year.
- In the U.S, the average family of four wastes approximately $1,500 worth of food per year, while in the U.K, the average household with children discards roughly £700 annually.
- FLW is responsible for an estimated 8% of annual greenhouse gas emissions; If it were a country, FLW would be the third-largest emitter after China and the United States.
Now can you answer the question “how much food do you waste every day?”
If you are a European or U.S citizen, you would waste up to 315 gram of food daily. If it sounds not large to you, I would tell you that, food waste, by FAO definition, is edible part of food. In other words, if you go to a supermarket to buy around 300g meat, you would throw all this meat.