Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)


Development of a Code of Conduct on Food Loss and Food Waste Prevention

The world is facing unprecedented global challenges that affect the sustainability of agricultural and food systems. These challenges include: natural resource depletion and the adverse impacts of environmental degradation, such as desertification, drought, land degradation, water scarcity and biodiversity loss; rapid urbanization and population growth and the associated changes in lifestyles and dietary habits; transboundary pests and diseases; and climate change.  It is widely recognized that one of the key practical actions to address these challenges is to reduce food losses and waste (FLW). This is particularly true when FLW is addressed using a food system approach, as it can dramatically increase the sustainable use of natural resources and strengthen climate and food security resilience. The Food Loss Index measures the extent to which the world is making progress in reducing FLW as part of efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

At its 26th Session of October 2018, the FAO Committee on agriculture (COAG) requested that FAO take the lead, in collaboration with relevant actors, to develop Voluntary Codes of Conduct (CoC) for the reduction of food loss and food waste for submission to the next session of COAG (COAG 27) in October 2020. In response to this request, FAO is planning to lead a global process that will engage different stakeholders to develop the CoC. 

Description of the CoC on FLW prevention

The CoC will present a set of voluntary, global, internationally agreed, guiding principles and practices that different stakeholders can adopt and apply in order to achieve FLW reduction while yielding positive outcomes relative to the environment, natural resources, livelihoods, food security and nutrition in alignment with the 2030 agenda.

More specifically, it is envisaged that the CoC will:

  • Provide a benchmark and framework against which countries can develop strategies, policies, institutions, legislation and programmes.
  • Provide a set of global, internationally agreed-upon, locally adaptable voluntary practices that different stakeholders directly or indirectly involved with FLW might adopt.
  • Provide guidance as to what constitute acceptable practices against which different stakeholders can gauge their proposed actions.
  • Facilitate the harmonization of the approaches applied and the assessment of progress in the reduction of FLW.

The audience targeted as potential users of the CoC includes all the different stakeholders who deal directly or indirectly with FLW, namely:

  • Government agencies, including relevant ministries and national and sub-national institutions;
  • Food supply chain actors (including: small scale family farmers, herders and fisher folk; processors; SMEs and other agribusiness operating in the private sector; and consumers)
  • Civil society organizations (CSO);
  • Academic and research institutions;
  • Bi- and multi-lateral development agencies, including international financial institutions;
  • Philanthropic organisations;
  • UN agencies and intergovernmental and regional organizations with a mandate related to FLW;

Main sections of the annotated outline of CoC on FLW prevention

The outline document presents the main parts of the CoC, which will comprise the following sections:

  • an introductory section presenting the background, rationale, nature, scope, target audience and objectives of CoC
  • the main body containing the guiding principles and practices to address FLW.

This section is broken into:

  • General guiding principles
  • Specific principles and practices addressed through a hierarchy approach, which prioritizes prevention and reduction at the various steps of the supply chain, followed by redistribution of food for human consumption, food loss and waste repurposing and recycling and ultimately disposal, as depicted in the following figure:

  • Cross-cutting issues.

Purpose of the discussion

The e-consultation is launched and facilitated by FAO’s Food Systems Programme (SP4) in order to get feedback and suggestions on (i) the outline of the CoC and (ii) the content of the different sections. The recommendations of the e-consultation will contribute to the preparation of the Zero Draft of the CoC, which will be further discussed and refined through internal and external multi-stakeholder consultations. It is envisaged that a final version of the CoC will be presented for endorsement at the 27th session of COAG in October 2020.


1) With respect to the proposed outline and structure of the CoC:

  • a) Does the proposed outline of the CoC address the issues in an exhaustive and comprehensive way?
  • b) Are there any particular issues and aspects of importance that you think are not be addressed in the proposed structure?
  • c) Are there any disadvantages or gaps you see in the current structure

2) With respect to the content of the different sections of the CoC:

  • a) What are the general guiding principles that you think are important for section 2.1?
  • b) What are the specific guiding principles and practices do you think are important for sections 2.2.1(a, b& c), 2.2.2 and 2.2.3?
  • c) Taking into account the need to foster FLW policy coherence, which cross-cutting issues are relevant to the FLW topic, as addressed in section 2.2.4?

3) Can you provide specific examples of policies, interventions, initiatives, alliances and institutional arrangements which should be considered as best practices in FLW prevention, reduction, food recovery, repurposing and recycling?

4) How could this Code of Conduct on FLW prevention and reduction be most useful for different stakeholders, especially at national and regional levels?


Thank you for your contribution!

Divine Njie

Deputy Strategic Programme Leader

Food Systems Programme (SP4)

Food and Agriculture Organization

This activity is now closed. Please contact [email protected] for any further information.

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Thank you very much to everyone who contributed to the e-consultation regarding the development of the CoC on FLW prevention and reduction.

All the comments you provided represent valuable inputs and will be highly kept into consideration.

María Fernanda Jiménez Morales

Thank you very much for your contribution. The CoC will definitely not be a binding instrument, but it will simply provide guidance and practical hints for FLW prevention, reduction and management. The aim is to provide a useful tool for governments and food supply chain actors. We will try to provide not only standardized solutions, but also solutions which could be adapted locally.

Food recovery and responsible management of products that are still edible will be included in the CoC.  The empowerment of nations in the subject is something important to contemplate, in order to generate solutions that are adjustable to the realities of each area. , and are not dependent on standardized solutions,

@ Cindy Hidalgo Víquez

Thank you for your contribution. Portions and nutritional aspects do play an important role that should be kept into consideration when referring to food waste.

Laura Brenes-Peralta

Dear Laura, Many thanks for your additional contribution. The CoC will use a multidisciplinary approach to FLW and will therefore focus on a multi-stakeholder way through prevention, assertive communication and commitment.

We agree that alliances are fundamental to address FLW and that the CoC should include best practices and practical cases and support Member Countries in developing road-maps to reduce, prevent and manage FLW. Thank you for mentioning the interesting case of Costa Rica and of the  Costa Rican FLW Network. We would be glad if you could share experiences with us.

Brighton Mvumi

Thank you for your contribution and for mentioning organic fertilisers and livestock feed.

All the aspects you refer to (institutional arrangement and policies, innovations, standardisation of procedures, information and experience sharing mechanisms, etc…) will be kept in high consideration.

1) The presented outline would suggest the achievement of a CoC that entails most relevant aspects to tackle FLW, in my opinion it is comprehensive and exhaustive. However, following the LAC strategy, I believe aspects regarding governance (not only legal frameworks) and awareness can still be a bit further developed. Of course, one would understand that there are such particularities in terms of governments, governance and policy frameworks that this two aspects cannot be standardized. Still, emphasizing on the fact that FLW is a multisectoral/multidisciplinary/ multistakeholder problem, the CoC can also strengthen the need to approach this matter in the same multistakeholder way through prevention, assertive communication and commitment. Alliances are most needed to address FLW. Examples of some possible aspects to be added are ahead:

1.1-include on-going strategies as an example in local and regional levels to get the audience motivated or illustrated through practical cases, it could be in an annex section and not exactly art of the code

1.2-include food security definition, as well as many others you are already probably considering (edible, non-edible, different definitions for FLW, nutritional losses, etc).

1.3-academia and research centres are missing from this targeted audience

1.4-try to include also a focus on knowledge, practices, methods and enabling platforms to effectively reduce FLW, and not only legal frameworks which has proved resistance in some sectors.

1.5-illustrating possible road-maps to follow in order to implement the Code and the adoption in different countries, regions or sectors can help.

2) In regards to the content:  

a) Section 2.1 includes very relevant aspects; however it can also include the perspective of responsibility from the private sector, consumers and active society, so that actions do not rely only on the institutional commitment. 

b) In my opinion, all aspects presented for 2.2 are relevant and required,. This section has a logical distribution according to the hierarchy of FLW management: prevention, reduction, repurposing and recycling, and incineration-landfilling. Some aspects seem to have a strong focus on regulation or legal backgrounds, which are indeed needed, but can also be addressed through economic and efficiency scopes to draw attention and positive perception from the private sector, farmers and agro-industries of all sizes.

2.2.1(c) can still include a nutritional-sensitive approach, besides the administrative and hygienic aspects.

2.2.4 Cross-cutting issues can be improved by specific tools and methods like Life Cycle Assessment (explicitly), and Lean Manufacturing as already adopted mechanisms by the industry, which may have not been directly applied to FLW but have enormous potential for impacts, hotspots and trade-off understanding, as well as improving process efficiency. Communication and awareness can have a particular section, as well as a review on quantification methods and index development, linking it to already existing guidelines and publications.

3) Examples:

a) The Costa Rican FLW Network would be happy to share some of our experiences (mostly good but our constraints as well), where we have been working in a voluntary platform including institutional, private, academic and civil actors. This has allowed to understand part of the needs, concerns and opinions from actors within the food system. We have come to the conclusion that data, knowledge, and research are very important to provide support to future actions, while commitment and awareness is the starting point to get sector “on board” whether they can act from policy making, commercial or productive activities, or more social-oriented approaches. Financial support for those in the productive side and the articulation of strategies has been a constant challenge, and the respect for each institutional role together with the will, commitment and innovative ways to act have been key in moving forward.  While we develop our activities we have become aware of national, and regional actions which can fit in this “good practices” category, such as:

b) Integrated Waste Management (a national plan and law was established in Costa Rica since 2010, aiming at setting the extended responsibility from the generator, as well as enabling the reduction, separation and valorization from the source before any other waste management considerations, which is consistent with the FLW hierarchy. We are currently evaluating from the academic perspective, the different impacts of FW valorization options to support future policies or projects).

c) Policies: National Plan for Decarbonization, Sustainable production and consumption National Policy, SAN-CELAC National Plan (the creation of both policies were conceived within a participatory approach. The second was adopted in the country -as well as most LAC countries after the CELAC committed to move forward into the achievement of the SDGs, including a specific target on FLW. Being covered by a national plan or policy, all institutions related to food production, processing, and distribution, environment, economy and health would have a link to the topic at some point).

d) Food redistribution and productive actions (we have met national and regional actors directly working on redistribution of food surplus with a strong emphasis on nutrition, food safety and education, one example is Plato Lleno. Others are tackling directly FLW in their operations through measurement, innovation, marketing, examples are taken from Organic Farm La Pavilla, Unilever, hotels and restaurants within the National Sustainable and Healthy Gastronomy Plan.)

e) Academic and sector engagement (different educational networks and chambers related to the touristic and gastronomic sectors have adopted activities in FLW, by presenting the topic in their seminars or national congresses, establishing educational or research FLW activities, embracing awards like Bandera Azul Ecológica, and considering a joint creation of guidelines to quantify and prevent FLW).

4) The dissemination of the code at all its stages (consultation, validation, implementation) to different sector would be a good starting point to make it useful, since different points of view will be included and the diversity of factors and solutions can be represented in the Code up to some level. This will allow the empowerment of the actors. A box of good practices and practical examples on each section, or a parallel publication can help the target audience to picture the execution of the CoC on each level.  

kindest regards,


English transaltion below

+ En relación con el proyecto y estructura propuestos para el CdC

Considero que el proyecto en cuestiones pertinentes sobre la temática que engloba las el CdC sobre la reducción de la pérdida y el desperdicio de alimentos. Personalmente daría principal énfasis a la temática de recuperación y manejo responsable de los productos aún consumibles. Los temas de valorización del residuo (cuando ya no son de consumo humanos) es importante mencionarlos como solución a la disposición final de algo que ya no se pudo aprovechar como alimento, pero creo que en esta temática hay bastantes organizaciones trabajando, e incluso normativas y reglamentos que ya los solicitan como obligación de una operación, pero el tema de consumo responsables y manejo de alimentos que aún pueden ser consumidos es el problema que se debe atacar concretamente y la conducta en la que nos debemos enfocar, pues es la que desencadena una serie de problemas que se pueden ver impactados positivamente, si logramos hacer modificaciones de conducta global en función al trato adecuado de los alimentos.

+ En lo que respecta al contenido de las diferentes secciones del CdC

Con respecto al 2.1 no tengo comentarios. En el punto 2.2.3 específicamente haría mención a una disposición final o DEPÓSITO EN VERTEDORES, sin mencionar la incineración, pues a nivel de Latinoamérica en algunos países, esto ha sido un tema de discusión y existen posiciones radicales sobre su aceptación y por un tecnicismo de esos sería muy penoso que no tuviera aceptación.

Sobre cuestiones transversales mencionadas en la sección 2.2.4, que son relevantes para la PDA, creo que el empoderamiento de las naciones en la temática, es algo importante de contemplar, con el fin de generar soluciones que sean ajustables a las realidades de cada zona, y no sean dependientes de las soluciones estandarizadas, pues más adelante amparados en ausencia de fondos capacidades o conocimientos se podría aducir no seguir con la iniciativa , pero si están empoderados, solucionan el problema desde sus capacidades y su realidad generando experiencias exitosas.

+Ejemplos concretos de políticas, intervenciones, iniciativas, alianzas y acuerdos institucionales que deberían considerarse como las mejores prácticas en materia de prevención y reducción de la PDA y recuperación, reutilización y reciclado de alimentos

Red PDA – Costa Rica, las iniciativas de plato lleno (caso Costa Rica), bandera azul eventos especiales estrella morada (reducción PDA), valor agregado a remanentes de producto (Ingeniería en Agronegocios TEC- CR), Política Nacional de Producción y Consumo Sostenibles Costa Rica, podrían ser ejemplos de apoyo y sensibilización en la reducción de PDA.

+Cómo podría ser este Código de Conducta sobre la prevención y reducción de la PDA más útil para las diferentes partes interesadas, especialmente a nivel nacional y regional

En este caso me gustaría referirme específicamente al sector privado, la industria alimentaria para ser exacto. Considero que es uno de los sectores de mayor importancia en esta temática, por lo que considero que estar cerca de ellos es clave. Esto se puede realizar mediante consultas abiertas o re direccionadas a actores clave (cámaras, asociaciones o agremiaciones). Además, considero que el código NO debe de ser de obligación (jurídica) ni una obligación genérica, dirigida a los operadores del sector agroalimentario (sector privado); ya que este sector en su operación cumple con mucha reglamentación y normativa y el agregar una más puede generar resistencia, y con el tiempo descuido. En cambio, si se trabaja en cuestiones más motivadoras sensibilizas y de común acuerdo, con algún reconocimiento de importancia (no tiene que ser económico), será más sencillo que estas acciones se adopten y sean sostenibles en el tiempo, pues lo que buscamos es un cambio sostenible y la modificación de una conducta, y no el castigo. A nivel de Latinoamérica, el problema no es la capacidad de generar obligaciones jurídicas, sino ejecutarlas.

+ With respect to the proposed outline and structure of the CoC

I believe that the proposed outline addresses the relevant issues that should be covered by the CoC on food loss and food waste reduction. I would place a major emphasis on the recovery and responsible management of food that is still safe and nutritious for human consumption (food waste). Giving value to food that cannot be used or recovered for human consumption is one solution to avoid its final disposal. I believe several organizations are working in this field and specific rules and regulations are in place to enforce this practice. The problem that needs to be specifically tackled is the responsible consumption and management of food waste. The focus of our efforts must be placed on modifying this global conduct -triggering different problems- by managing food adequately.

+ With respect to the content of the different sections of the CoC

I have no comments regarding section 2.1. With respect to section 2.2.3, I would only make specific reference to final disposal or LANDFILLING, without mentioning incineration. In some countries in Latin America, incineration has been under discussion with conflicting views. It would be a shame if a technicism of this nature jeopardises the adoption of the CoC.

Regarding the cross-cutting issues -all relevant to FLW- mentioned in section 2.2.4, I believe that empowering the countries in this subject is important to create adaptable solutions, suited to the reality of the environment. Lack of funding, skills or knowledge could be argued to abort the initiative, but when people are empowered, they successfully solve the problems using their skills.

+ Specific examples of policies, interventions, initiatives, alliances and institutional arrangements which should be considered as best practices in FLW prevention, reduction, food recovery, repurposing and recycling?

The Costa Rican Food Loss and Waste Reduction Network, the Full Plate initiative (Costa Rica), the Blue Flag award, the purple star special events (FLW reduction), adding value to food waste (Engineering in Agribusiness, Costa Rica Institute of Technology) or the National Policy of Sustainable Production and Consumption (Costa Rica) are examples of efforts supporting and raising awareness on FLW reduction. 

+ How could this Code of Conduct on FLW prevention and reduction be most useful for different stakeholders, especially at national and regional levels?

In this case I would like to refer specifically to the food industry. As I believe it is one of the most important sectors in this field, keeping a close relationship is crucial. This collaboration can be channelled through open or redirected consultations with key actors (chambers, associations or guilds). Furthermore, the CoC should NOT be legally binding or entail any obligation whatsoever aimed at operators in the agrifood industry (private sector). This sector is already subject to many regulations and standards and an additional one can generate resistance and carelessness over time. However, if more motivating actions are jointly agreed and dully acknowledged -not necessarily with money- the chances of these being adopted and remaining sustainable over time are higher. We are seeking a sustainable transformation and a behavioural change, not a penalty. In Latin America, the problem lies in enforcing legal obligations, rather than establishing these.

Some of the aspects might have been captured somewhere in the framework but I think they need to be more pronounced or visible under the sections indicated below.

Under Section 2.2.2, consider adding the following aspects:

Use insects and other organsims to decompose food waste to generate both organic fertilisers and livestock feed.

Safety of food waste for repurposing eg livestock feed or for decomposition by insects and other organisms

Under Section 2.2.4, consider adding the following aspects:

Institutional arrangement and policies

Scaling-up of FLW reduction innovations

Viability of FLW reduction innovations

Standardisation of Procedures

Information and experience sharing mechanisms

Stakeholder engagement/participation

Standardisation of Procedures

ISO certification

Capacity Development at various levels

Addressing Climate Change issues in FLW prevention and reduction

English trasnation below

Excelente este tipo de iniciativas. Desde mi experiencia en la parte de consumo y PDA, con respecto a las observaciones que hemos realizado cuando medimos desperdicio de alimentos en servicios de alimentación me parece importante que se evidencie en el documento la necesidad de ligar la sesibilización por parte de servicios de alimentación y sus usuarios a tamaños de porción más adecuados a las necesidades nutricionales. 

En muchos casos vemos que se sirven porciones muy grandes de algunos alimentos (en Costa Rica lo hemos visto con arroz y frijloles), entonces es adapatar las porciones a las necesidades nutricionales de las personas, quizá esto se puede manejar desde guías alimentarias, sensibilizando sobre la necesidad de pedir las porciones que requiere. En algunos casos he escuchado expreciones relacionadas con disminución de PDA indicando que "hay que comerse lo que sirve", pero el enfoque desde mi perspectiva debe quedar claro en cuanto a que no es comerse lo que se sirve, es servirse las porciones que requiere. 


I find these initiatives excellent. On the basis of my experience in consumption and FLW and, regarding our measurements of food waste in catering services, I believe the CoC should highlight the need of raising awareness among catering services and their users on the convenience of adapting portion sizes to nutritional needs.

In many cases, portion sizes are huge (e.g. rice and beans in Costa Rica) and should be adapted to the nutritional needs of the diners. Producing dietary guidelines raising awareness on the need of ordering appropriate portions might be a way of addressing this issue. Some of the comments I have heard related to FLW reduction stress the idea of "eating all the food served on the plate”, but the approach should be quite different in my opinion: rather than finishing the plate, we should be serving right-sized portions suited to our needs.

Kind regards,

Angela Frigo

Thank you very much for your contribution.

Yes, the idea is to distinguish between food loss and waste and provide examples for FLW prevention and reduction at each step of the food supply chain.

Thank you for mentioning the current ongoing initiative at EU level and especially the EU Platform on Food Losses and Waste coordinated by the DG Health and Food Safety, which is drafting key recommendations for future actions to prevent food losses and waste.

Food redistribution will be considered as an activity which takes place within and along the food supply chain. As long as food is edible and safe it should be directed to human consumption.

@ Raquel Diaz

We are grateful to receive a very detailed contribution by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The causes of FLW are central in order to understand the FLW phenomenon and will therefore be included in the CoC.  We will separate food waste at consumers’ level and at catering level as he causes and solutions are different. We will also differentiate between industrial uses and animal feed. Your suggestion to include a section on “Development of the CoC” (for Public Administration) is well received and will be kept in high consideration.

@ Dieudonné OUEDRAOGO

Thank you for your very interesting contribution. FLW management will be included in the CoC, although the main focus of the document will be on prevention and reduction and will follow a food waste hierarchy to prioritize actions with regards to FLW.

Thanks for mentioning specific and relevant principles (such as evaluation of national situation, elaboration of strategies, importance of technologies and education) which will be highly kept into consideration when formulating the CoC.