Sustainable Development Goals

Indicator 12.3.1 - Global Food Loss and Waste

SDG target 12.3 has two components, Losses and Waste that should be measured by two separate indicators.

Sub-Indicator 12.3.1.a - Food Loss Index

The Food Loss Index (FLI) focuses on food losses that occur from production up to (and not including) the retail level. It measures the changes in percentage losses for a basket of 10 main commodities by country in comparison with a base period. The FLI will contribute to measure progress towards SDG Target 12.3.

Sub-Indicator 12.3.1.b - Food Waste Index

A proposal for measuring Food Waste, which comprises the retail and consumption levels is under development. UN Environment is taking the lead on this sub-indicator.

Target 12.3

By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.

Percentage of food loss by region, 2016

General views of food waste. ©FAO/Jonathan Bloom. SDG target 12.3 has two components, Losses and Waste that should be measured by two separate indicators. The Global Food Loss Index represents SDG Indicator 12.3.1.


This sub-indicator measures changes in the food losses from along the supply chain from the point of maturity on the production site to the retails level. The objective is to show the impact of policy and investment on the efficiency of the supply chain. FAO recommends collecting data for the various stages (harvest, post-production, storage, transportation, primary processing and wholesales) to help countries tailor programs to improve the efficiency and functioning of their food supply system. FAO also recommends a food systems approach that addresses food losses and waste in the context of other policy priorities.

Key results

The national-level Food Loss Index is a fixed-base weighted index widely used in official statistics. The index are the ten key commodities in line with policy priorities of each countries, their relative importance in terms of value of production, the nationally representative loss percentages or share of production that does not reach the retail stage, and the loss percentages in the benchmark year. The ten commodities cover five main food groups representing the whole diet.

The Food Loss Index has been recently re-classified in Tier II because of the dire lack of consistent national food loss estimates. The main challenge is not in the calculation of the index per se, but in obtaining the loss factors for the various stages of the supply chain and in aggregating them into a national Food Loss Percentage of a commodity. To do that, countries need guidelines on how to cost-effectively collect, estimate and aggregate losses at the farm, transport, storage, industry and wholesale stages; on how to combine data sources and prioritise efforts.

FAO has developed a two-pronged approach to address data scarcity by providing i) a complete methodological and technical assistance package with a set of Guidelines and training material on loss data collection and estimation, and ii) a loss imputation model to estimated losses in the absence of measured data. The imputation model was developed first for estimating losses internationally using the few Loss estimates in the Food Balance Sheets as reported by countries and factors found in the specialised literature. The model can be adapted at the national level by the countries.

FAO has generated modelled estimates of food losses across the main regions of the world based on a limited pool of available national data. Based on these estimates, the percentage of food lost after harvest on farm and at the transport, storage, processing and wholesale stages stands at 13.8 percent globally, amounting to over 400 billion USD a year.

FAO has also conducted a meta-analysis of existing studies that measure food loss and waste in countries all over the world and published it on the FLW Database. It illustrates how food loss and waste varies across stages in the food supply chain, as well as between regions and commodity groups.

Regional estimates suggest that:

  • Across all commodity groups, the highest share of food losses occurs in Central Asia and Southern Asia that is 20.7 percent of global agricultural production, while the Oceania region, which includes the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand register the lowest percentages of food losses, at 9.8 percent and 5.8 respectively.
  • For cereals and pulses – the commodity group with relatively more available and reliable data – significant loss levels are found in sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, while they are limited in Central and Southern Asia.
  • Generally, the share of losses is higher for fruits and vegetables than for cereals and pulses.

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