SAVE FOOD: Iniciativa mundial sobre la reducción de la pérdida y el desperdicio de alimentos

FAO Study Sheds Light on Consumer-Level Fruit and Vegetable Waste in The Phillipines

©FAO/James Belgrave
14 Nov 2017

In North America and Europe, relatively frequent examinations of consumer-level food waste have led to some progress in developing programmes to address food waste reduction and prevention in recent years. In the developing world, on the other hand, research is highly focused on addressing the problem of reducing post-harvest loss. A recent study commissioned by FAO, and conducted by the Post-harvest Training and Research Center (PHTRC) of the University of the Philippines, Los Bano, assessed the extent of, and underlying causes of fruit and vegetable waste in urban and peri-urban provinces in the country.

The study sought to understand the socio-demographic characteristics of consumers, as well as consumer purchase behavior: types and volume of fruits and vegetables, storage practices, nature and extent of wastes and measures taken to minimize the levels of waste. The frequency of purchase and other dynamics such as purchase preferences - packaged or loose format, ready to eat versus items requiring longer preparation and discounted versus non-discounted items.

The study determined that consumer-level fruit and vegetable waste was highly correlated to the quantities of fruits and vegetables purchased. Larger purchases, researchers found, led to higher levels of waste. Researchers also deduced that the quantities of fruit and vegetable waste differed by type of market shopper, affirming that supermarket shoppers waste more than those who shop in wet markets. In the case of consumer-level waste of fruit, this increased based on household size and income - larger households and those with higher incomes wasted larger quantities of fruits. Decay, and quality loss manifested by shriveling, wilting, toughening, browning and softening were the main characteristics of fruits and vegetables discarded by consumers. The underlying causes of this waste, cited by respondents included “forgot to eat”, “poor quality”, “forgot to cook” and “overbuying”. Consumer efforts to minimize waste include buying enough for consumption, consuming or using immediately after purchase, planning their menus, improving storage and purchasing produce that is of good quality.