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387. International Day for Awareness on Food Loss and Waste

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Today, September 29th, is International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste as designated by the United Nations. In Japan, it is customary to refer to all food produced but not consumed as "shokuhin (food) loss", but in general, the two terms are used according to the stage at which the food was lost. Food loss refers to food lost before reaching retail, whereas food waste is food that is discarded by retailers or consumers.

Globally, about 14% of the food produced is lost and an estimated 17% (11% in households, 5% in food service and 2% in retail) is wasted. The annual waste alone is equivalent to 23 million 40-ton trucks. Food loss and waste account for 38% of the total energy used in the global food system. It is said that this lost or wasted food could feed 2 billion people. Current estimates show that about 800 million people suffer from hunger.

When food is lost or wasted, all the resources used to produce this food, including water, land, energy, labor, and capital are also wasted. The waste disposal process also emits greenhouse gases, and it is estimated that 8-10% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions are related to food loss and waste. In addition, food loss and waste negatively impacts food security and can lead to increased food costs.

Food loss and waste undermines the sustainability of the food system. If it is not sustainable, it cannot be resilient. Global and local actions are needed to maximize the use of food. Technological innovations such as  e-commerce platforms, mobile food processing systems, new ways of working, and good practices to control quality and reduce food loss and waste are important to achieve this transformation.

The Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 is to reduce food loss and waste. The target is to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses. The deadline for achieving this goal is nine years away. Taking action to reduce food loss and waste cannot wait.


References

International Day for Awareness on Food Loss and Waste https://www.unic.or.jp/activities/international_observances/days/  Accessed on Sep 27, 2021.

UN International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste Reduction 20 September. https://www.un.org/en/observances/end-food-waste-day/ Accessed on Sep 27, 2021.

UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2021. https://www.unep.org/resources/report/unep-food-waste-index-report-2021, Accessed on Sep 27, 2021.

World Bank Q&A: Seeking Solutions to a $1.2 Trillion Problem: Food Loss and Waste. https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2020/10/16/qa-seeking-solutio…;

Contributor: SHIRATORI Sakiko (Information and Public Relations Office)