Let’s talk about the price of food

One third of all food is wasted. Much of that comes down to consumer behaviour.

Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization,  40% of losses in developing countries occur at post-harvest and processing levels while in the industrialized countries more than 40% of losses happen at retail and consumer levels. So there is a difference between food waste and loss in developing and developed countries.

How can we reduce this food waste and food loss? Making food more expensive could be an option in addressing these issues. 

The proportion of household income spent on food has fallen over recent decades, especially in developed countries. Maybe food has become too cheap in the developed world? People may be more ready to throw food away because it doesn’t cost much.

Nina Waldhauer, a Supply Chain Management expert from Wageningen University and Research says the problem is that we don’t value food highly enough. Speaking at the recent side event, she said food is not like other commodities. It is a human need. The problem is that food  has become more of a tradeable product like other products such as oil. Food has become not only an object for speculation, but has become more abstract in its relationship to agriculture. This could be described as a “ financialization” of the food sector. We need to address this.

But If we make food prices higher, who is going to profit  from that? The consumer needs to know who in the value chain earns what. He or she needs to know what the farmer gets, but also what the retailer earns from the food product.

There is a need for more transparancy in the whole food value chain according to Hans Hoogeveen, the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to FAO.  For a lot of people, higher prices means less access to food. That can lead to famine. This leads to instabilities at the economic and political level.

Would you pay more for food to reduce food waste? Or do you think there are other ways raise awareness of the value of food?  Some people in our community would really struggle with higher prices. It’s a difficult issue but food needs to be valued more highly.  We need to have more respect for food.

Blogpost by Myriam Welvaert, #CFS43 Social Reporter –myriam.welvaert(at)wur.nl

Photo Credit: Didier Weemaels on Unsplash

This post is part of the live coverage during the 43rd Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.


21/10/2016 21:33


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