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Raising awareness about food loss and waste

Reducing food loss and waste is essential, as all resources used to produce food are lost when food is wasted.

Sept. 29, 2020, is the first-ever observance of the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste.

The United Nations General Assembly designated the observance in 2019, recognizing the fundamental role that sustainable food production plays in promoting food security and nutrition.

Reducing food losses and waste is essential in a world where the number of peopled affected by hunger has been on the rise since 2014, and tons of edible food are lost or wasted every day.

When food is lost or wasted, all the resources that were used to produce the food, including water, land, energy, labor and capital, are wasted. In addition, the disposal of food in landfills leads to greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change.

That is the reason why the theme for the first observance will be "Stop food loss and waste for the people, for the planet.

NRDCU.S. wastes tons of resources when we waste food

Actions are required both globally and locally to maximize the use of food. The introduction of technologies, innovative solutions, new ways of working and good practices to manage food quality and reduce food loss and waste are key to implementing change.

Reducing food loss and waste requires the action of all, from food producers to retailers to consumers.

Did you know?

  • Globally, around 14% of food produced is lost between harvest and retail. Significant quantities are also wasted in retail and at the consumption level.
  • In the case of fruits and vegetables, more than 20% is lost.
  • The use of surface and groundwater resources (blue water) attributable to food lost or wasted represents around 6% of total water withdrawals.
  • When reductions in food loss occur close to the farm, they are most effective in addressing food insecurity and in alleviating stress on land and water.
  • When reductions in food waste occur downstream in the supply chain and at the consumer level they are key to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The largest improvements in food security are likely to occur by reducing food losses in the early stages of the supply chain, especially on-farm and at harvest in countries with high levels of food insecurity.

USDA highlights three of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States messages in a blog. The messages:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic highlights that we now have an opportunity to rethink the way in which we produce, handle and waste our food.
  • Reducing food losses and waste provides a powerful means to strengthen our food systems.
  • Innovation, technologies and infrastructure are critical to increasing the efficiency of food systems and to reducing food losses and waste.

The Natural Resources Defense Council created Save the Food, which contains tips and recipes to help prevent food waste at home. The organization also updated their report, Wasted: How America is Losing up to 40 Percent of its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill.

Source: United Nations, USDA, NRDC

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