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Latin America and the Caribbean is responsible for 20% of global food lost from post-harvest up to retail

According to a new FAO report, The State of Food and Agriculture 2019.

OOne fifth of all the food that is lost globally from post-harvest up to, but excluding, the retail stage, is produced in Latin America and the Caribbean.

October 14, 2019, Santiago de Chile - Latin America and the Caribbean accounts for  20% of the global amount of food that is lost from post-harvest up to,but excluding, the retail stage, according to the new FAO report, The State of Food and Agriculture 2019 (SOFA).

While the region only accounts for 9% percent of the global population, one fifth of all the food that is lost globally from post-harvest up to, but excluding, the retail stage, is produced in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The report notes that, worldwide, causes of food loss and waste differ widely along the food supply chain. Important causes of on-farm losses include inadequate harvesting time, climatic conditions, practices applied at harvest and handling, and challenges in marketing produce.

Significant losses are caused by inadequate storage conditions as well as decisions made at earlier stages of the supply chain, which predispose products to a shorter shelf life. Adequate cold storage, in particular, can be crucial to prevent quantitative and qualitative food losses.

During transportation, good physical infrastructure and efficient trade logistics are of key importance to prevent food losses. Processing and packaging can play a role in preserving foods, but losses can be caused by inadequate facilities as well as technical malfunction or human error.

Lost calories in Latin America and the Caribbean

Focusing only on the loses that occur in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the region loses 12% of its food from post-harvest up to, but excluding, the retail stage, slightly lower than the global average, which reaches 14%.

When this same loss is considered in terms of calories, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean lose 14% of the calories they produce.

Carbon, land and water footprint

According to the SOFA, food loss and waste have three types of quantifiable environmental footprints: carbon footprint, land footprint, water footprint.

The carbon footprint of food is the total amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted throughout the food’s life cycle, expressed in carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent: Latin America and the Caribbean accounts for 16% of the global carbon footprint resulting from food losses and waste.

The land footprint is the land area needed to produce food, and the region accounts for 9% of the world’s total land footprint due to food loss and waste.

In terms of the water footprint –the measure of all the fresh water used to produce and supply the food to the final consumer– Latin America accounts for 5% of the global water footprint associated with food loss and waste

All these impacts consider the environmental effects of food lost and wasted from the post-harvest stage to retail, but including retail, as opposed to the food loss figures presented above.

National initiatives

The SOFA highlights that several countries in the region have adopted policies to stop food loss and waste: in 2017, Chile established the National Committee for the Prevention and Reduction of Food Loss and Waste, to facilitate and coordinate strategies to prevent and reduce this phenomenon.

Similarly, Argentina created a National Program for the Reduction of Food Loss and Waste in 2015; Since then, more than 80 public and private institutions have joined together to form the National Network for the Reduction of Food Loss and Waste. As part of the program, a national campaign called "Let’s appreciate food" was launched, which provides information and videos on how to prevent it.

In Brazil, a national network of food banks, Mesa Brasil SESC, has delivered food to more than 1.4 million Brazilians through public-private partnerships in more than 500 municipalities in 2017, with food that would have ended up in the trash.

The Inter-American Development Bank has created #SinDesperdicio, a platform aimed at promoting innovation and improving the quality of public interventions on food loss and waste in the region, cooperating with actors such as FAO, the Forum of Goods of Consumption, the Global Network of Food Banks, IBM and other companies.

 

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