Nearly 14% of world's food is lost before reaching the market

Nearly 14% of world's food is lost before reaching the market
Credit: Belga

About 14% of the world's food is lost after harvest and before reaching the stage of being sold, according to the 2019 State of Food and Agriculture report, released on Monday by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

These recent estimates are intended to identify actions necessary to reduce food waste. 

"How can we afford to throw food away when, every day, more than 820 million people suffer from hunger around the world?" FAO Director General Qu Dongyu protested.

The organization distinguishes food "losses", registered at each stage of the supply chain and the transportation and "waste" in supermarkets and/or by consumers. 

Losses and waste are generally higher for fruit and vegetables than for cereal and legumes, at all stages of the supply chain, except for losses on farms or during the transportation in East and South-East Asia. Many low-income countries show significant losses during the storage phase, due to poor storage facilities, especially poor refrigerated warehouses.

In 2011, FAO estimated that one-third of the food produced in the world was lost or wasted annually but said in its latest report that it was a "very rough" estimate. The Rome-based UN agency later indicated that it would publish an estimate on food “thrown away”, in addition to its current report. 

The phenomenon is complicated to solve, FAO said, and it calls "countries to intensify efforts to fight against the root causes of food loss and waste, at all stages, and offers guidance in terms of policy but also in ways to reduce food loss and waste."

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