International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste

The food system is complex, involving a multitude of actors responsible for various stages, including harvesting, processing, transportation, cooling, and heating. During this process, a great amount of food is lost in the supply chain. This food loss together with the food production process (from harvest to retail), has significant impact on both the climate and our health. To raise awareness of the importance of food loss and waste, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) have launched this year’s call to action to move towards building resilient food systems.

Currently, many of the world’s agrifood systems are not only unsustainable but also vulnerable to external climate and other shocks, partly exacerbated by their own environmental impact. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for halving per-capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reducing food losses along production and supply chains (SDG 12, target 12.3). In addition, food loss and waste reduction will also contribute to a decrease of greenhouse gas emissions.

The transformation to a more sustainable and healthy food system necessitates increasing the availability of healthy food while simultaneously making it affordable and accessible to all. To this end, the European Commission has published the report ‘Towards Sustainable Food Consumption’ (Scientific Opinion No. 14, June 2023), which outlines policy recommendations to overcome the barriers that are preventing consumers from adopting more sustainable and healthier diets. These recommendations include:

  • Coordinate the adoption of a coherent mix of complementary policies that include instruments addressing incentives and disincentives, information on healthy and sustainable food, and regulatory measures
  • Make healthy and sustainable diets the easy and affordable choice
  • Secure the provision of adequate and trusted information about the environmental and health impacts of different foods in order to encourage healthy and sustainable decision-making by all actors in the food system
  • Mandate new interventions to promote the availability and accessibility of products for healthy and sustainable diets

Although other factors, such as the reduction of animal food product use, also play significant roles, the reduction of food loss and waste is a dire necessity to accelerate the transformation of agrifood systems - yielding tangible benefits for people and planet.

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