About one-third of food produced globally for human consumption is lost or wasted every year
according to FAO.
Food loss occurs on the farm before food reaches the consumer while food waste occurs at the
retail and consumer end of the food chain. The part of food that is lost from harvest up to, but
not including, the retail level is called food loss. The part wasted at the consumer or retail level
is referred to as food waste and is mainly associated with the behavior of retailers, the foodservice sector and consumers. This distinction is important to address the root causes of this
problem that everyone from farmers/producers to processors, retailers and consumers can help
At the farm level, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) that include proper handling and
processing would reduce food waste.
At the retail level, food waste can also be reduced by proper handling and good storage
conditions. Retail stores may also have for sale, fruits and vegetables such as apples, papaya,
dragon fruit, avocados, star fruit and pears that have had their shelf life extended by the use of
“special” stickers, one to a piece of fruit. The stickers are coated with a mixture of sodium
chloride and beeswax, which slows down the fruit ripening process by removing ethylene—the
ripening hormone in fresh produce from the air around the produce. The sticker uses 100 %
natural ingredients to keep the fruit looking and tasting farm fresh for up to 14 days or longer
and acts in the same way as the natural protections used by plants themselves.
Consumers do not have control over food loss during production, processing and in the
marketplace but can be meticulous and help reduce food waste by taking proper care of fruits
and vegetables from the point of purchase to consumption. By doing so, they can save money,
be able to feed hungry individuals and play a positive role in reducing food waste. This will lead
to a reduction in landfill use and the corresponding methane emissions (global warming).
Consumers can contribute to reducing food waste by changing their habits. This can be
achieved by doing the following:
1. Buying Fruits and Vegetables Sensibly
2. Storing Fresh Produce Correctly
3. Preparing Fruits and Vegetables Cleverly
4. Composting Left Overs
Well written Jane. Just to add my bit, you left out the aggregator/wholesaler/transporter handling and treatment as a critical contributor to losses and waste. No reversal can occur with physically damaged and contaminated food no matter how well it left the farm or the retailer or consumer attempts to slow down spoilage. The chain is only as strong as the weakest link. All links, like in a relay, cannot afford to drop the baton.
Another dimension is capacity. Supply systems synchronisation for optimisation implies planning. No system will give 100% but properly working with reality helps as does a large dose of expertise and creativity. Thank you for the short piece.