In 2019, the 74th United Nations General Assembly designated 29 September as the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste (IDAFLW), recognizing the fundamental role that sustainable food production plays in promoting food security and nutrition. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations held the first IDAFLW on September 29, 2020.
Global Food Losses and Food Waste: Extent, Causes and Prevention is a landmark publication of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It strikingly revealed the fact that one-third of all food is lost or wasted between the farm and the plate, while 690 million people in the world are still suffering from hunger and nutrition insufficiency. When food is loss or wasted, all the resources that were used to produce this food -, including water, land, energy, labour and capital – go to waste. Therefore, reducing food loss and waste is not only for food security of all human beings, but also can contribute to alleviating stress on land and water and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Food loss may happen during the production stage. Unreasonable harvesting time and harvesting methods can directly lead to food loss. Next is the storage stage. Improper storage environment or overly positive demand judgment will increase food loss. Finally, the food transportation process.Good infrastructure and efficient trade logistics are key to preventing food loss. Processing and packaging play a role in preserving foods, and losses are often caused by inadequate facilities, technical malfunction or human error. Food waste often occurs in the retail stage and the use stage. Merchants may not be able to sell all their products because of oversupply, while customers may buy too much.
Reducing food loss and waste is an important part of realizing the UN sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The content of SDG 12 is responsible consumption and production, which aims to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.
António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, pointed out that “the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the fragility of our food systems, and worsened food loss and waste in many countries. We need new approaches and solutions”.