Food losses and waste in the context of sustainable food systems - E-consultation to set the track of the study

03.04.2013 - 30.04.2013

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in its thirty-ninth Session (October 2012) requested the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE), to undertake a study on ‘Food losses and waste in the context of sustainable food systems’ to be presented to the Plenary in 2014. This report has to be policy oriented, practical and operational.

As part of its report elaboration process, the HLPE is launching an e-consultation to seek views, public feedback and comments, on the pertinence and interconnections of some key questions that the report proposes to address, in line with the request from the CFS, and that could form the building blocks of the report. References of global and national studies and data on the subject, especially on food waste, are also welcome.

The feedback received will be used by the HLPE Steering Committee to finalize the terms of reference of the study and the HLPE Project Team that will be appointed to prepare the study and policy recommendations.

To download the proposed scope, please click here.
If you wish to contribute, send an email or use the form below.

The consultation is open until 30th April 2013.


In parallel, the HLPE is calling experts interested in participating or in leading the Project Team for this report. Information on this call is available on the HLPE website. The HLPE Steering Committee will appoint the Project Team after review of candidatures.

The HLPE Steering Committee

Analúcia Couto Brazil

My english is very poor so i need to write in Portuguese.

Minhas sugestões:

Políticas públicas que priorizem a capacitação dos agricultores familiares com o objetivo de minimizar as perdas do cultivo `a colheita investindo em projetos que aproveitem os alimentos que não tem valor de mercado por apresentarem imperfeições mas ainda possuem valor nutricional. Transformar legumes processando-os agrega-se valor e tudo é aproveitado.

As Ceasa's podem ser o local de processamento desses alimentos que já viriam em veículos climatizados direto para as unidades processadoras que fariam a separação, qualificação, higienização e envase. Esses alimentos poderiam ser comprados pelo PAA e direcionados aos programas de combate á desnutrição, encaminhados aos hospitais que recebem pacientes orindos dos programas de assistencia à famílias em vulnerabilidade social e econômica que ao terem a alta hospitalar não posssuem condições de arcar com os custos de uma dieta prescrita , imprescindível para a recuperação plena de sua saúde.

Supermercados poderiam destinar esses mesmos produtos para uma central que faria a pre-seleção e encaminhar às Ceasa's que após o processo de aproveitamento encaminharia  às unidadaes vicentinas que possuem a maior capilaridade tendo milhares de Conferências que direcionam alimentos aos seus assistidos , sendo a ONG mais antiga do mundo.

Políticas públicas:

- que priorizem a conservação de estradas que escoam a produção da agricultura familiar

-logística garantida para o escoamento da produção da agricultura familiar que comercializa para o PAA, PNAE e outros com veículos climatizados, adquiridos da mesma maneira que se tem os ônibus escolares

-ampliar o mercado institucional para os agricultores familiares comercializarem seus produtos para os quartéis da Aeronáutica, Exército e Marinha, Hospitais Públicos, Universidades, Ifet's e onde haja a produção de refeiçoes coletivas públicas governamentais.

-diminuição da burocracia e adequação da legislação à capacidade produtiva de pequenas unidades processadoras de alimentos (frutas e legumes), beneficiamento, pasteurização do leite e produção de seus derivados  

Yakindra Timilsena Commonwealth Industrial and Scientific Research Organization ...

Dear all,

After reviewing the paper and the contributions already posted in the websites, I have found that the paper lacks the inclusion of safety aspects of food and agrosystem and only focuses on the reducing losses and wastes. I think we can include the follwing comments

1) The major obstacles in the least developed countries like Nepal is the lack of infrastructure. This has not only lead to huge amount of food losses during the distribution channel but also resulted in serious health problems. Poor refrigeration system due to frequent power cut has made the enterpreneur to use the sodium hydroxide as neutralizer in milk. This, in the view of preventing the possible loss of milk, has put the public health a serious threat. 

2) The excessive use of pesticides in order to protect them from the possible damage of pests has resulted the pollution of the whole agro-ecosystem and the consumption of such vegetables has resulted in increased number of hospital cases.

3) The focus is to be given to the awareness programs and education to make more people aware on food security and food safety issues. For example in the mountainous districts of Nepal, the availability of locally produced crops and tubers and fruits and vegetable can help in reducing their hunger problem but "the mere fond of rice attitude" made them parasite to depend on the white rice to be transported by government in subsidy. So the subsidy policy should be revised and encouraging the local production should be promoted.

4) Another important thing is the stamping the expiry date on several processed food without proper research about their shelf life. It made the regulatory body to destroy the food product, may be prior to the real consumable period. So the provision for expiry date has to be revised or enforced scientifically.

Miriam Ofoeze postharvest Unit National Root Crops Research Institute Umudike, Nigeria

In most developing countries, attention is being given to production of farm products and little or non to postharvest aspects of farming eg. mechanization,  provision of improved varieties, extention services etc.

In Nigeria and so many other developing countries most farmers are rural women and lack the technology and female friendly equipment to handle postharvest loses. These lead to reduction of income, and hunger few months after harvest

In other to reduce postharvest loses, adequate attention should be given to postharvest aspects of farming as much as is being given to production of farm products

Rural women and girls should be educated, empowered and assisted by postharvest extension worker during and after harvest on  Morden post harvest processes so as to increase their income and provide food for their families for sustainable development in Africa.

Lourdes Laureano Brazil

As Centrais de Abastecimento (CEASA) de alimentos que operam no Brasil despediçam acintosamente toneladas de alimentos, principalmente os alimentos hortifrutiferas, enquanto inúmeras famílias deixam de alimentar de frutas e legumes em suas refeições diárias.

Outro aspecto importante a ser observado na alimentação da família de baixa renda no Brasil é que a cesta básica é composta unicamente por alimentos industrializados, de baixo valor nutritivo, além de incluir transgênicos, como é o caso do óleo de soja e do fubá de milho. Isso fere o direito do povo à alimentação adequada e fere a soberania alimentar.


Lourdes Laureano.


Mendu Srinivasulu India

I would like to highlight on part of the produce/food the way it is being handled. I mean at the time of harvesting, processing and selling. Most of the food produce (Farm, Sea food etc) are still being poorly handled lack of good and required infrastructure, in many cases under utilization of the available infrastructure, lack of monitoring on quality and hygiene issues among sellers, buyers and administrative staff.

Hence, proper awareness on the importance of the food along with their nutritional values, economic value and negative impacts of lack of quality and hygiene is to be given highest importance.

Finally there should be a good sharing mechanism on various types of food availability at various stages so that if at all any waste is inevitable then it can be used properly by necessary process or value addition...

A dedicated website or blog to keep updates on selective areas/industries food waste or it's improvement in reducing the food waste and how the waste is being hadled properly or minimised can be shared to all periodically.


Alois Leidwein Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety Research Coordination, ...

Dear colleagues,

An additional comment:

in many regions damages caused by game bites may be a considerable problem too. There is a conflict between nature protection and food security interests

Dr.Dr. Alois Leidwein
Head of Department
AGES - Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety
Research Coordination, Knowledge Transfer, AGES Academy

Zippora Segessenmann Federal Office for Agriculture FOAG, Switzerland

We welcome the effort to establish the reduction of food losses and waste as a mean to achieve sustainable food systems. 

Looking at point 1 of the proposed issues we would like indicate that other international organizations such as the OECD and Eurostat are also working on the subject. In order to come to an universally valid definition the processes should be harmonized. We suggest a coordination. The contact persons are Mr. Morvarid Bagherzadeh of the OECD, Mr. Rainer Muthmann and Mr. Hartmut Schroer representing Eurostat and Mr. James Lomax of the FAO/UNEP initiative "".

Omar Allahham Jordan Ministry of Agriculture, Jordan

Dear colleagues,

According to the study of "Role of sustainable fisheries & aquaculture for food security and nutrition" I think it's important to study the following :

  • Test of water and its content as Chemicals wastes and heavy metals
  • Test of Food produced , Microbial Tests and Chemical tests to have an clear idea about food Quality ( post - Harvest Physiology and pollution of the food produced )
  • Test results will be used to arrange policies about the food use and food consumbtion .

In fact , food loss starts from the production area , and continue of losses from the production area to the consumption , it's important to study the post - harvest losses as quantity and quality .


Eng. Omar B. Allahham
Head of Policies Division
Studies & Policies Department
Ministry Of Agriculture


Mahfuja Parven IHRC , GreenWorldOne, Bangladesh


As I am from a developing country I always give emphasis to sustainable agriculture

Developed countries industrial revolution as well as developing countries poor industrial waste management hampered our planet whole ecosystem .That why we see worldwide floods, drought , typhoon and extreme weather as well as food crisis . About 870 million people are now in chronic hanger and it’s a millennium challenge to solve it. For this reason I like to divide the agriculture system into two major parts: pre harvest and post harvest . To be continued.

Lisa Kitinoja The Postharvest Education Foundation, United States of America

The Postharvest Education Foundation is involved in work to address both of these issues by providing information, advice, training and mentoring of young professionals who are involved in the fields of agriculture, horticulture, home economics and food processing.


Key factors affecting food losses and the gaps in knowledge/skills that we have identified:

  • Poor understanding of harvest indices of plant foods and how maturity is related to quality and shelf life
  • Poor sorting and grading practices during preparation for market, allowing damaged /decaying foods to enter the supply chain and spread decay to other foods
  • Poor temperature management and lack of control of relative humidity, leading to shriveling, wilting and deterioration of perishable foods
  • Poor quality packages which provide little or no protection during handling, transport and storage
  • Delays in marketing without proper storage (cool storage for perishables, drying of staple grains/beans/legumes before storage)
  • General lack of education on appropriate postharvest handling practices and technologies, leading to rough handling, mechanical damage, improperly handled mixed loads, and food safety dangers
  • Lack of the utilization of sustainable cost effective postharvest practices, leading to high levels of food losses on the farm, and in wholesale and retail markets


Key factors affecting food waste and the gaps in knowledge/skills that we have identified:

  • Over-sorting and over-grading on the farm and in the packinghouse based on strict guidelines that have more to do with appearance (color, size, shape) than nutritional value or eating quality, leading to higher discards of edible foods
  • Poor choice of packages and packaging materials, with focus on cosmetic features rather than on strength, cleanliness, ventilation, moisture control, etc., which would help extend shelf life
  • Over-reliance on long term cold storage, refrigeration and freezing, leading to development of off-flavors, chilling injury and freezer burn, causing discards of improperly stored foods along the supply chain
  • Confusing or unnecessary “sell-by” or “use-by” dates, based upon cosmetic changes or inventory management schemes rather than on food safety concerns, leading to waste of edible foods at the retail level
  • Lack of education regarding proper packaging, cooling/cold storage, storage of cooked foods and reusing left-over foods, leading to increased discards of foods in the home

For a few ideas on how you can reduce food waste:


This is a big, complex question that remains to be answered satisfactorily. One way we might be able to get at some of the answers is to ask instead: Who stands to benefit from maintaining the status quo?

Consider this: High levels of food losses and food waste create continuous demands for:

  • more seeds, fertilizers, land, water and other inputs used for production
  • more packages, packing materials, plastic bags, etc used to package foods
  • more of the transportation (trucks, drivers) used for distribution of food products
  • more food warehouses, cold storage and/or food processing facilities
  • more traditional food markets and alternative marketing outlets (internet, CSAs etc)
  • higher volumes of sales of foods at wholesale and retail markets, food service companies and restaurants.