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SAVE FOOD: Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction

Field Case Studies

Case studies to the ‘Extent, Causes and Solutions to Food Losses in the Small-scale Agriculture and Fisheries Subsectors’. Development of a Food Loss Reduction Strategy.

Food losses refer to the decrease in edible food mass throughout the different segments of the food supply chains – production, postharvest handling, agro-processing, distribution (wholesale and retail), consumption. Food losses and their prevention have an impact on the environment, food security for poor people, food quality and safety, and economic development. The exact causes of food losses vary throughout the world and are very much dependent on the specific conditions and local situation in a given country.

During the recent decades numerous studies have been undertaken to assess the quantities of food losses and food waste in many countries of the world. Most of these studies were conducted at national level, and based on literature review, statistical data, and stakeholder interviews.

The research revealed the knowledge gap: we have quantitative estimations of food losses, we know the causes of food losses, and we know that food loss reduction will be of great benefit to all actors in the food production and supply chains, to food security for poor people, and to the environment. However, we don’t know yet which causes of food losses are the most important, what is the impact of solutions and which solutions are viable and cost-effective, in economic, environmental and food security terms. Meaning: the solution to food loss should not be more expensive than the food loss itself, should not place a higher burden on the environment and greenhouse gas emission, should make more food available to the people that need it most, and should be socially and culturally acceptable.

Therefore the Save Food Initiative has designed the ‘food supply chain’ case studies, for the most important food subsectors in developing countries. In these case studies primary and empirical data will be generated for the different causes of food losses, and solutions for food losses will be analysed for their feasibility. A case study is just a one-moment recording of what is happening in a specific food supply chain in a specific season; next season and in a different location the situation can be very different again. Therefore it is important that the Save Food Initiative can undertake many case studies in many different locations, so that the multitude of study results provide significant trends and solutions. Further, the strategy aims at using the results of the case studies to target opportunities for investment programmes and interventions, during which formulation a wider geographical scope and the seasonality will be analysed.

The objective of this study is the identification and quantification of the main causes of food losses in the selected food supply chains, and the analysis of the measures to reduce food losses on their technical and economic feasibility, social acceptability and environment-friendliness, leading to concrete proposals to implement a food loss reduction programme.

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