Estimates by FAO (2011a) that the world loses or wastes nearly a third of the food produced for human consumption has sent shock waves across the globe and led to calls for action by world leaders and civil society groups. What exacerbates the concern is that the food loss and waste is occurring at a time of increasing food prices and worsening food insecurity for many. The issue is of high importance for FAO in its efforts to combat hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, at the same time enabling inclusive and efficient agricultural and food systems. Food losses and waste have a negative impact on the environment since they represent a waste of production factors and energy resources, and contribute to greenhouse gasses emissions. Consequently, the issue relates to the third goal of FAO to promote the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, for the benefit of present and future generations. It is against this background that FAO launched the Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction (also called SAVE FOOD) in 2011 jointly with the private sector trade fair organizer Messe Düsseldorf GmbH1. The initiative comprises four dynamically inter-related pillar of undertaking research and assessments, supporting evidence based policies, strategies and programmes; awareness raising; and the supporting pillar of coordination and collaboration of worldwide initiatives and partnership. Under the initiative, there have been attempts to define and delineate between food losses and waste. Food loss refers to the decrease in edible food mass available for human consumption throughout the different segments of the supply chain. In addition to quantitative loss, food products can also face a deterioration of quality, leading to a loss of economic and nutritional value. Food waste refers to food losses resulting from decisions to discard food that still has value. Food waste is most often associated with the behaviour of the retailers of the food service sector and of the consumers, but food waste and losses take place all along food supply chains (FAO, 2012). Food loss is mainly caused by inefficiencies in the use and allocation of resources along the food supply chain, like poor infrastructure and logistics, lack of technology, insufficient skills, and knowledge and management capacity of supply chain actors, as well as poor access to markets. In addition, natural disasters, weather and climatic conditions, negative economic trends might play a role too. Food waste relates mainly to the behaviour of retailers and consumers and it is a major problem at the global level, since throwing away food is often cheaper than using or re- sing, and in many situations - mainly, but not only, in industrialized nations - consumers can afford to waste food. Food waste is a major concern as more and more countries become urbanized. The world population is expected to increase by 2.3 billion by 2050, passing from 7.0 billion to 9.3 billion (United Nations, 2011). The 2011 Revision of the World Urbanization prospects acknowledged that half of the population of Asia is expected to live in urban areas by 2020, while Africa is likely to reach a 50 percent urbanization rate in 2035. Population growth is becoming largely an urban phenomenon concentrated in the developing world (David Satterthwaite, 2007). Urbanization is expected to keep on rising in both the more developed and the less developed regions so that, by 2050, urban dwellers will likely account for 86 percent of the population in the more developed regions and for 64 percent in the less developed ones. Overall, the world population is expected to be 67 percent urban in 2050 (United Nations, 2012) putting more pressure on dwindling resources to feed the growing population. A fundamental question on food loss and waste is on economic and market conditions that explain them. Essentially, why these losses and waste occur given the rational behaviour expected of farmers, firms, consumers, and other stakeholders along agri-food supply chains. Moreover, we live in a world of scarce resources. This background paper is an attempt to shed light on this question.

Background paper on the economics of food loss and waste

SEGRE', ANDREA;FALASCONI, LUCA;POLITANO, ALESSANDRO;VITTUARI, MATTEO
2014

Abstract

Estimates by FAO (2011a) that the world loses or wastes nearly a third of the food produced for human consumption has sent shock waves across the globe and led to calls for action by world leaders and civil society groups. What exacerbates the concern is that the food loss and waste is occurring at a time of increasing food prices and worsening food insecurity for many. The issue is of high importance for FAO in its efforts to combat hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, at the same time enabling inclusive and efficient agricultural and food systems. Food losses and waste have a negative impact on the environment since they represent a waste of production factors and energy resources, and contribute to greenhouse gasses emissions. Consequently, the issue relates to the third goal of FAO to promote the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, for the benefit of present and future generations. It is against this background that FAO launched the Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction (also called SAVE FOOD) in 2011 jointly with the private sector trade fair organizer Messe Düsseldorf GmbH1. The initiative comprises four dynamically inter-related pillar of undertaking research and assessments, supporting evidence based policies, strategies and programmes; awareness raising; and the supporting pillar of coordination and collaboration of worldwide initiatives and partnership. Under the initiative, there have been attempts to define and delineate between food losses and waste. Food loss refers to the decrease in edible food mass available for human consumption throughout the different segments of the supply chain. In addition to quantitative loss, food products can also face a deterioration of quality, leading to a loss of economic and nutritional value. Food waste refers to food losses resulting from decisions to discard food that still has value. Food waste is most often associated with the behaviour of the retailers of the food service sector and of the consumers, but food waste and losses take place all along food supply chains (FAO, 2012). Food loss is mainly caused by inefficiencies in the use and allocation of resources along the food supply chain, like poor infrastructure and logistics, lack of technology, insufficient skills, and knowledge and management capacity of supply chain actors, as well as poor access to markets. In addition, natural disasters, weather and climatic conditions, negative economic trends might play a role too. Food waste relates mainly to the behaviour of retailers and consumers and it is a major problem at the global level, since throwing away food is often cheaper than using or re- sing, and in many situations - mainly, but not only, in industrialized nations - consumers can afford to waste food. Food waste is a major concern as more and more countries become urbanized. The world population is expected to increase by 2.3 billion by 2050, passing from 7.0 billion to 9.3 billion (United Nations, 2011). The 2011 Revision of the World Urbanization prospects acknowledged that half of the population of Asia is expected to live in urban areas by 2020, while Africa is likely to reach a 50 percent urbanization rate in 2035. Population growth is becoming largely an urban phenomenon concentrated in the developing world (David Satterthwaite, 2007). Urbanization is expected to keep on rising in both the more developed and the less developed regions so that, by 2050, urban dwellers will likely account for 86 percent of the population in the more developed regions and for 64 percent in the less developed ones. Overall, the world population is expected to be 67 percent urban in 2050 (United Nations, 2012) putting more pressure on dwindling resources to feed the growing population. A fundamental question on food loss and waste is on economic and market conditions that explain them. Essentially, why these losses and waste occur given the rational behaviour expected of farmers, firms, consumers, and other stakeholders along agri-food supply chains. Moreover, we live in a world of scarce resources. This background paper is an attempt to shed light on this question.
Segrè A.; Falasconi L.; Politano A.; Vittuari M.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/508168
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