Pick Up

248. Food Waste Index Report 2021: Food waste is equivalent to 23 million 40-ton trucks annually

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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Target 12.3 aims to halve per-capita global food waste at the retail and consumer level and to reduce food loss in the production and supply chain by 2030. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) clearly defines food loss (including loss before reaching retail) and waste (loss at retail and consumption stages) in the 2019 World Food and Agriculture White Paper, used indicators namely Food Loss Index (FLI) and the Food Waste Index (FWI), and for the first time published an estimate of 14% for FLI. Regarding FWI, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released the Food Waste Index Report 2021 this month. The report shows how countries can accurately measure losses through comprehensive food waste data collection, analysis and modeling.

According to the report, more than 930 million tons of food sold in 2019 were dumped in the trash. Also 17% of the food that consumers would have been able to use (about 23 million 40-ton trucks) at homes, restaurants and stores was just thrown away. Including foods lost in the production, processing and distribution processes, one-third of all food is lost without being consumed.

Food waste was thought to be primarily a problem in rich countries, but the report found that despite the lack of data in poor countries, waste levels are surprisingly similar in all countries. It also revealed that households dispose 11% of food at the consumption stage, and the food service industry and retailers dispose 5% and 2%, respectively. This has significant environmental, social and economic implications, pointing out that 8-10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are related to unconsumed food. This report encourages consumers not to waste food at home and advises countries to include food waste in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), their commitment to climate action in the Paris Agreement.

This Pick Up project was started by JIRCAS on March 8th, just one year ago. Around this time, the spread of coronavirus accelerated, and the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros announced on Twitter that the number of countries reporting cases of infection had reached 100 as of date. In addition to the state of emergency being declared in New York in the United States, there were concerns about the seriousness of the infection in Italy, including the government’s plan to block the northern region. Against this background, stock prices have fallen sharply and crude oil prices have plummeted, and social problems such as the shortage of masks and toilet paper have occurred. Furthermore, when the supply chain was disrupted due to movement restrictions and lockdowns, food loss and waste problems arose, and awareness of the need to strengthen the food system against shocks increased. Pick Up will continue to introduce the latest discussions on global food.


UN News (2021) Wasting food just feeds climate change, new UN environment report warns. 
https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/03/1086402  Accessed on March 5, 2021
United Nations Environment Programme (2021) Food Waste Index Report 2021. Nairobi.

Contributor: SHIRATORI Sakiko (Research Strategy Office)

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