International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste


This year we celebrate the first ever observance of the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste. It also comes during the global COVID-19 pandemic, that has brought about a global wake-up on the need to transform and rebalance the way our food is produced and consumed.

Reducing food losses and waste is essential in a world where the number of people affected by hunger has been slowly on the rise since 2014, and tons and tons of edible food are lost and/or wasted every day. Food loss and waste also puts unnecessary pressure on the natural resource base and on the environment, depleting the natural resource base and generating greenhouse gases.

Read more and discover what you can do. Take action, start something. Stop food loss and waste. For the people. For the planet.

Why is it important to reduce food loss and waste?

Globally, around 14 percent of food produced is lost between harvest and retail. Significant quantities are also wasted in retail and at the consumption level.

When food is loss or wasted, all the resources that were used to produce this food -, including water, land, energy, labour and capital – go to waste. In addition, the disposal of food loss and waste in landfills, leads to greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change.

Actions are required globally and locally to maximize the use of the food we produce. The introduction of technologies, innovative solutions (including e-commerce platforms for marketing, retractable mobile food processing systems), new ways of working and good practices to manage food quality and reduce food loss and waste are key to implementing this transformative change.

Reducing food loss and waste requires the attention and actions of all, from food producers, to food supply chain stakeholders, to food industries, retailers and consumers.

Key messages

  1. There is no room for food loss and waste in this time of crisis! The COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call to rethink the way in which we produce, handle and waste our food!
  2. Reducing food losses and waste provides a powerful means to strengthen our food systems.
  3. Innovation, technologies and infrastructure are critical to increasing the efficiency of food systems and to reducing food losses and waste.
  4. Public interventions should seek to facilitate investments in food losses and waste reduction by private actors especially at this critical time.
  5. Innovative business models, with the participation of the private sector need to be shaped and new approaches are needed to finance them, to stop food loss and food waste.
  6. We should all be food savers: for the people, for the planet!

Did you know?

  • To monitor SDG Target 12.3, FAO has created the Food Loss Index (FLI). The focus of the indicator is on percentages of food removed from the supply chain. The FLI monitors changes in these percentages over time, relative to a base period currently set at 2015, in order to track progress against SDG Target 12.3.
  • FAO’s current work on measurement is critical to tracking progress on reducing food losses against the Global Food Loss Indicator, of 14 percent.
  • When reductions in food loss occur close to the farm, they are most effective in addressing food insecurity and in alleviating stress on land and water.
  • When reductions in food waste occur downstream in the supply chain and at the consumer level they are key to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The largest improvements in food security are likely to occur by reducing food losses in the early stages of the supply chain, especially on-farm and at harvest in countries with high levels of food insecurity.
  • Nutrient loss due to quantitative and qualitative food loss and waste may represent a missed opportunity to reduce malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.



Post-harvest losses can decrease food availability and reduce incomes of small holders.
Many countries deal with the growing demand for food by increasing agricultural production, without a focus on reducing food loss and waste, thereby exacerbating pressure on an increasingly scarce natural resource base.
The highest levels of losses of fruits and vegetables generally occur at harvest and during transportation.
Managing quality in the food value chain is of critical importance to reducing both food loss and food waste.
When reductions occur close to the farm, they are most effective in addressing food insecurity and in alleviating stress on land and water.
When reductions occur downstream in the supply chain and at the consumer level they are key to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Reduction in food losses or waste in high-income countries have a limited impact in terms of global food security. However, food recovery and redistribution may increase access to food and improve diets of food insecure people.

Call to action

This year, although we mark IDAFLW 2020 in very unprecedented circumstances, you can still take advantage of this important opportunity to call for action. Take a fresh approach by considering different activities or new formats for events – either by going digital or respecting any physical distancing measures. Find out more about how you can promote the Day by reading our Get Involved Guide.

Let us know about your IDAFLW event!

Remember to tell us about your events or efforts to promote. Photograph and/or record your event and send us your best photos so we can feature them in the IDAFLW Flickr Album. All high resolution photos should be accompanied by photo credits and information about the event so we can publish them.



Share this page