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23 June 2015

Food Losses and Waste in the Context of Sustainable Food Systems: HLPE report in brief

One-third of all edible food produced is lost or wasted each year. The UN’s proposed Sustainable Development Goal 12 aims at a 50% reduction in food waste per capita at the retail and consumer level and also includes general recommendation on reducing food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.

The HLPE report “Food Losses and Waste in the Context of Sustainable Food Systems” synthesizes state-of-the-art knowledge about best food waste reduction practices and suggests a way forward. This policy brief synopsizes the HLPE report’s major conclusions, including definitions, challenges to food waste prevention, future pathways and finally provides an overview of important on-going regional and global initiatives.

The High Level Panel of Experts on food security and nutrition (HLPE) was created in 2010 to provide the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security (CFS) with evidence-based and policy-oriented analysis to feed into ongoing policy debates and policy formulation. The HLPE report “Food Losses and Waste in the Context of Sustainable Food Systems” (2014) is based on the most current and accurate information available about causes of food losses and waste throughout the food supply chain.The report also suggests prevention measures for all concerned actors in the food system, aiming to improve food and nutrition security and the sustainability of global food systems. This brief includes food waste classification and hierarchy tables, setting a framework for FLW analysis and creation of prevention strategies.

FLW causes are context specific and need context-specific solutions. Choosing which strategies to adopt requires a thorough analysis of local causes and consideration of winners and losers, as well as costs and benefits for all actors involved. Effective FLW reduction involves many actors along the food supply chain and includes both individual and collective action. It is all worth it in the end becasue actions for reduction of food waste in one step of value chain trigger positive change in other sometimes even indirectly linked steps. Key policy steps to focus on are:

  • Improve data collection and knowledge sharing on Food Losses and Waste
  • Develop effective strategies to reduce FLW at appropriate levels
  • Take effective steps to reduce FLW
  • Improve coordination of policies and strategies in order to reduce FLW

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