SAVE FOOD: Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction

Educating children on food waste in Portugal to create a culture of change, towards sustainability


29 September 2021, Brussels, Belgium - European Parliamentary Alliance against Hunger and Malnutrition and the Ministry of Agriculture of Portugal, in close collaboration with FAO, launched a Portuguese version of “Do Good: Save Food!” teaching guides aimed to educate children on food waste and encourage behavioural change.


Initiated by the Portuguese MEP and Member of the European Parliamentary Alliance against Hunger and Malnutrition Isabel Carvalhais, and supported by the Ministry of Agriculture of Portugal, the adaptation of FAO’s “Do Good: Save Food!” educational package to Portuguese stems from the country’s strong commitment to address the issue of food loss and waste at national level in line with the 2030 Agenda.


During his address at the launch event, Maximo Torero Cullen, Chief Economists at FAO, said that “making this training package available in Portuguese will provide the children of Portugal and all Lusophone countries a head start to leading our world to less food loss and waste and therefore a healthier planet and a healthier future”.


FAO has been working closely with the Members of the European Parliamentary Alliance against Hunger and Malnutrition to provide a platform for policy dialogue, exchange and awareness raising on the transformation of agri-food systems. In 2020, with the support of MEP and Member of the Alliance Biljana Borzan, FAO’s “Do Good: Save Food!” were translated into Croatian and disseminated at schools in Osijek city.


In addition to the Portuguese version, the “Do Good: Save Food!” materials are also available in Albanian, Croatian, English, French, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Turkish, and soon also in Macedonian, Romanian, Russian and Ukrainian.


The series of teaching manuals “Do Good: Save Food!” was developed by FAO and International Food Waste Coalition to help children and young people from five to fourteen years old and up to learn in an engaging way about the negative impacts of wasting food and the actions that children can take to reduce food waste and good habits that they can develop and introduce to their friends, families and communities to reduce food waste.

Making the next generation aware of how food waste impacts climate change and the society as a whole and providing them with the knowledge they need to fight it is vital in securing the future we want for them.


Food loss and waste must be reduced for greater food security and environmental sustainability


29 September 2020, Rome/Nairobi/New York – At the global event marking today the first International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and their partners urged everyone to do more to reduce food loss and waste or risk an even greater drop in food security and natural resources.

Some 690 million people today are hungry and three billion cannot afford a healthy diet. Hunger has been on the rise for the past five years, and the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening the food and nutrition security of up to an additional 132 million of people. On top of that, we are faced with an ecosystem decline and the consequences of climate change.

Yet, food continues to be lost and wasted. This year we have witnessed an increase in food loss and waste as a result of movement and transport restrictions due to the pandemic.

COVID-19 aside, however, each year about 14 percent of the world's food is lost before even reaching the market. Food loss is valued at $400 billion annually - about the GDP of Austria. On top of this comes food waste, for which new estimates are coming out early 2021. When it comes to environmental impact, food loss and waste generate eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Food loss occurs from farm up to and excluding retail, whilst food waste occurs at retail, food service and household level. Causes range from poor handling, inadequate transport or storage, lack of cold chain capacity, extreme weather conditions to cosmetic standards, and a lack of planning and cooking skills among consumers.

Simply put, reducing food lost or wasted means more food for all, less greenhouse gas emissions, less pressure on the environment, and increased productivity and economic growth. 

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Food waste prevention initiatives in the EU during the COVID-19 crisis


The COVID-19 pandemic is putting governments, businesses, people and the economy, under severe pressure. While the focus of all actors is on protecting public health, the food supply chain is also impacted, and measures taken may, for some sectors, lead to increased food waste. Food banks and other charity organisations are also facing challenges as regards the availability of surplus food and/or volunteers.

The EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste prepared an overview of actions taken by its members in the different Member States of the EU to prevent food loss and waste in the context of this unprecedented crisis.

Please find the compilation of good practices here.

Reducing food waste at schools through optimized processes and collaboration

International Food Waste Coalition developed a Collaboration Guide for all actors of school food value chains from farms to fork in school canteens which would help to:

  1. Optimize school catering: measuring and reducing food waste in kitchens and canteens, as well as improving meals.
  2. Promote collaboration between school catering stakeholders: connecting stakeholders, so they can work together to develop a more efficient and sustainable school food value chains and thereby reduce food waste at schools.

The IFWC Collaboration Guide comprises 20 good practices to help canteen and kitchen staff, teaching staff, local producers, local authorities, school management and the parents of students to work better together to reduce food waste.

You can find more information about the Guide and the associated tools here.

Guide for the establishment of food recovery and redistribution systems


Food Loss and Waste Team of the Regional FAO Office for Europe and Central Asia compiled a practical guide for the establishment of effective and sustainable food recovery and redistribution systems.


Today, large quantities of foods still fit for human consumption are discarded by businesses in the food sector due to packaging or quality issues, excess supply, consumption habits, etc. In many countries, donation of excess food to charitable organizations by food business operators is limited because of legal and other hurdles, including tax barriers, liability and date marking issues. An enabling regulatory and policy environment plays a very important role in supporting and implementing food recovery and redistribution operations from food business operators to food insecure people.


This guide was prepared in response to the growing demand in the region to support the development of policies and legislation promoting food redistribution as part of the countries’ national strategies for food loss and waste reduction. To this end, the document offers guiding principles and recommendations to policy-makers regarding implementation of a favourable regulatory and legal framework that facilitates food recovery and redistribution activities in their countries.


The recommendations are supported by examples of policy measures and legislative adjustments introduced in different countries, in particular in the European Union.


The document was shared with the relevant ministerial divisions and other stakeholders in the FAO target countries in Europe and Central Asia for consideration, discussion and identification of the most appropriate models for a food recovery and redistribution system, based on their specific needs and context.


The guide is available here


Fighting food waste together

FAO’s SAVE FOOD Initiative in Europe and Central Asia, and the International Food Waste Coalition will partner with Too Good To Go’s Movement against food waste to raise awareness of the consequences of wasting food and encourage more children and young people to value resources and thereby protect our planet.

Consumer behaviour is arguably one of the leading, albeit underlying, drivers of food waste in developed regions such as Europe, and steps to shift social norms and consumer attitudes are important. The education of future generation of consumers plays a critical role in this.

In line with its goal to inspire 500 schools all across Europe and using its experience of promoting and managing International education programmes, Too Good To Go will begin connecting schools and authorities to the “Do Good: Save Food!” series of teaching manuals, developed the FAO and the International Food Waste Coalition to influence and change the behaviour of school-age children and, through them, their families. The programme will launch in 2020, initially with a focus on the UK, France and Belgium.

Mette Lykke, CEO Too Good To Go: “At Too Good To Go we are committed to inspiring change at all levels, from consumers and businesses to students and politicians. Making the next generation aware of how food waste impacts climate change, and equipping them with the tools they need to fight it, is vital in securing the future we want for them. The 'Do Good: Save Food' initiative takes an engaging approach to education on food waste, encouraging behavioural change, and advising on concrete changes in ways that will resonate with all age ranges.”

Robert van Otterdijk, Agro-Industry Officer, FAO in Europe and Central Asia; Leader of the regional SAVE FOOD Initiative commented: “In the medium- and high-income countries, the efforts to reduce food waste at the producer and retail levels would be undermined if consumer education is not in place. Thus, teaching children – the consumers of tomorrow – about actions they can take and good habits that they can develop to reduce food waste will bring about the behavior change required to stem the problem now and in the future. Together with the International Food Waste Coalition we developed the “Do Good: Save Food! Materials to educate and, most importantly, empower young people to act differently.”

The education package was tested in 18 schools in France, Italy, Belgium and the United Kingdom for two academic years during 2015 – 2017.

Thomas Candeal from the International Food Waste Coalition, who led and coordinated a testing of the programme, said that based on the pilot phase results, an education campaign may prompt a minimum of 15 per cent reduction in food waste. He added that engaging other actors of the school food value chain - food producers and suppliers, school kitchens and canteens, school management and municipalities - would further enhance the impact.


Food donation convoy carries record load on World Food Day


16 October 2019, Budapest, Hungary – Trucks loaded with 50 tonnes of food donations crossed the central Budapest on the occasion of the World Food Day. While helping Hungarian families in need, this join action of FAO and the Hungarian Foodbank Association aimed to call attention to the issue of food waste and the importance of healthy diets.

Achieving Zero Hunger is not only about nourishing people, but also nurturing the planet. This year, World Food Day calls for action across sectors to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible to everyone,” said Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative. He added that “reducing food loss and waste would contribute to achieving other important sustainable development targets, especially the ones relating to food security and environmental sustainability.”

The President of the Foodbank Association, Balazs Cseh, said: “The Foodbank wants to stress that we can only tackle food waste with authorities, private sector and civil society working closely together.

Altogether, 20 Hungarian and international food processors and retail companies, all partners of the Association, joined the convoy. Throughout the year, these companies donate surplus produce to the Foodbank for distribution among food insecure people.

Moving forward on food loss and waste reduction

14 October, Rome, Italy - Reducing food loss and waste is widely seen as an important way to increase the efficiency of the food system, improve food security and nutrition, and contribute towards environmental sustainability. Growing attention to this issue is reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Many countries are already taking action to reduce food loss and waste, but the challenges ahead remain significant, and the efforts will only be effective if informed by a solid understanding of the problem.


This year’s the State of Food and Agriculture - one of FAO's major annual flagship publications offering a science-based assessments of important issues in the field of food and agriculture - focuses on food losses and waste. Importantly, the report provides new estimates of the world’s food loss, which indicates that globally – in terms of economic value – around 14 percent of food produced is lost from post-harvest up to the retail level.


The report also analyzes the critical loss points in specific supply chains, which is crucial to deciding on appropriate measures. Addressing policy makers, the document thus provides some guiding principles for designing more informed interventions and actions based on the objectives being pursued through food loss and waste reductions, be they in improved economic efficiency, food security and nutrition, or environmental sustainability.


Commenting on the launch of the State of Food and Agriculture, Qu Dongyu, FAO Director General, said: “This report examines the complex ways in which food loss and waste – and the measures taken to address it – affects food security and the environment. Among other things, it attempts to highlight precisely where there is a need for a more thorough understanding of the issues, both through more and better data and improved and expanded analysis. It is my hope that this report can make a contribution to the debate on how to address the problem of food loss and waste most effectively and in ways that actually make a difference in terms of improved food security and environmental sustainability, following the spirit of the 2030 Agenda”.

Hungarian NAIK presented findings on food loss and waste in processing sector

26 September, Budapest, Hungary – Food loss and waste in a processing sector was at the focus of the conference organized by NAIK Research Institute of Agricultural Economics.

Robert van Otterdijk, Agro-Industry Officer at FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia and the Leader of the FAO-Messe Düsseldorf SAVE FOOD Initiative in the region, in his opening presentation, provided a global perspective on the issue. Van Otterdijk said that food loss during processing usually occurred due to an unintentional good damage or process interruptions. While over-production resulting from pressure to meet contractual requirements, in combination with cheap disposal alternatives lead to food waste.

Speaking about measures to reduce food loss and waste, Robert van Otterdijk noted: “In industrialized countries, solutions at the producer and industrial levels would only be marginal if consumer education and appropriate stock management at retail level is not in place. Moreover, government investment and policy support to facilitate market access for farmers and to provide an enabling environment for private sector investment are critical factors to significantly reduce food loss and waste.” 

Dr. Gyöngyi Kúrthy from NAIK Research Institute of Agricultural Economics presented results of the Institute’s research on causes, measurement and solutions to food loss and waste in a processing sector in Hungary. According to the research findings, food loss and waste is commonly perceived by companies as unavoidable during a technological process. At that, the research revealed that those processors who monitored and assessed the amount and value of losses were more cautious about the problem.

Among the obstacles to preventing and reducing food loss and waste, processors highlighted regulatory issues, market deficiency for by-products, lack of adequate chain-based cooperation between the actors and insufficient incentive to reduce losses. Surprisingly, more than half of the respondents considered mandatory requirements as an effective tool to tackling food loss and waste.

Considering the heavy reliance of food processors on policy-makers, Gyöngyi Kúrthy concluded that a significant reduction or improved utilisation of food loss and waste could be only achieved through a change of the regulation.

Community of Practice on Food Loss and Waste Reduction in Europe and Central Asia established

A dedicated Community of Practice on Food Loss and Waste Reduction in Europe and Central Asia has been established under the regional SAVE FOOD Initiative of FAO and Messe Düsseldorf, to better respond to the needs of their partners in Europe and Central Asia. 

The Community of Practice will provide a platform for live discussions, exchange of knowledge and sharing of good practices and solutions to reducing food loss and waste. By bringing together public and private sector, Academia, research institutions, NGOs and civil society that are involved in fighting against food loss and waste in Europe and Central Asia, the Community of Practice will help its members identify and create synergies, and thus facilitate collaboration for better-coordinated and more effective interventions in the region.

Being a member of the Community of Practice, you will be able to participate in online consultations, get in touch with other practitioners, exchange relevant information and contribute to building regional community aimed at reducing food losses and waste. Public or private sector player, you are welcome to join the Community.

FAO develops a Code of Conduct on Food Loss and Food Waste Prevention

29 July 2019 - Upon request of the FAO Committee on agriculture (COAG), FAO commenced, in collaboration with relevant actors, the development of Voluntary Codes of Conduct for the reduction of food loss and waste, which shall be presented for endorsement at the 27th session of COAG in October 2020.


To this end, FAO launched global e-consultation, inviting different actors in food value chain and food system stakeholders to provide suggestions and recommendations on the outline and content of the Code of Conduct. [read more]

EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste

June 2017: The EU and Member States are committed to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), adopted in September 2015, including a target to halve per capita food waste at the retail and consumer level by 2030, and reduce food losses along the food production and supply chains. In order to support achievement of the SDG 12.3 target on food waste and maximise the contribution of all actors, the Communication on Circular Economy calls on the Commission to establish a Platform dedicated to food waste prevention. [read more]

28th Meeting of the ACP-EU Economic and Social Interest Groups

May 2017: Under the auspices of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) organises meetings with ACP and EU economic and social interest groups. This role has been confirmed by the Cotonou Agreement, which mandates the EESC to organise consultation sessions and meetings of ACP and EU economic and social interest groups (Protocol 1). [read more]

European Parliament votes to halve food waste by 2030

January 2017: The European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety voted in favour of regulations that require all member states to halve food waste by 2030. Food waste in the EU is estimated at some 89 million tonnes, or 180 kg per capita per year. MEPs advocate an EU food waste reduction target of 30 percent by 2025 and 50 percent by 2030, compared to 2014. [read more]

World Food Day celebrations in Geneva

WFD 2016 looks at seven different areas related to food and agriculture where adaptations to climate change are needed. These areas are forestry, agriculture, livestock management, food loss and waste, natural resources, fisheries and food systems. In line with the background, the FAOOffice in Geneva will celebrate the WFD by organizing an Expert Panel Discussion followed by a photo/food exhibition. The Discussion’s theme is dedicated to ‘climate actions for a sustainable future’. The discussion will be divided into two sessions. The first session will focus on the Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA): actions and way forward and the second session will emphasize on Reducing food loss and waste: the roles and contributions of private sectors and governments.. [read more]

Libramont Agricultural Fair

22-25 July 2016: Wallonie, Belgium - this Fair is organized every year and it is one of the most important agricultural fairs in Belgium. The theme of the Fair this year is the fight against food waste [read more]

EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste

2016: the Communication on Circular Economy calls on the Commission to establish a Platform dedicated to food waste prevention. The EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste (FLW) aims to support all actors in: defining measures needed to prevent food waste; sharing best practice; and evaluating progress made over time. [read more]

French food waste law passes unanimously

2016: On 3 February the French parliament has adopted a series of measures against food waste after the senate unanimously voted a bill addressing the opportunities for supermarkets to take action. The bill includes actions that prevent throwing safe and nutritious food away or making unsold food unfit for consumption through the addition of chemicals. [read more]

Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) 2016

2016: 14 – 16 January, CityCube, Berlin
The Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) is an international conference that focuses on central questions concerning the future of the global agri-food industry.FAO is organizing the Expert Panel Discussion with topic "Promotion of urban food security and nutrition through redistribution of food at risk of loss or waste", Friday 15 January 2016.

Second European FUSIONS Platform meeting

2014: 30-31 October, Brussels, Belgium
FUSIONS (Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising Waste Prevention Strategies) is the European project committed to contribute to the reduction of food waste through improved and harmonised quantification, policy instruments and social innovation. The project runs for 4 years, from August 2012 to July 2016. It is funded by the European Commission framework programme 7.

Portuguese government organized a Forum dedicated to food waste

2014: On WFD the Portuguese government and other national entities organized a Forum dedicated to food waste, with the support of FAO Portugal, which promoted the debate among many public, private and civil society stakeholders, including several Portuguese SAVE FOOD partners.

Lisbon launches a Commission to Fight Food Waste

2014: Lisbon Municipality established a Commission to Fight Food Waste, bringing together many public, private and civil society stakeholders, including FAO Portugal, with the goal to expand initiatives and create synergies among different actors to promote Lisbon as a Zero Waste City [read more]

Lisbon - First Capital Zero Waste

2014:Lisbon, Portugal - FAO colleague Ana Muller reports on the SAVE FOOD partner NGO DariAcordar and its Zero Waste Movement that signed a protocol with Lisbon Municipality and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to expand activities [more]

Food donation: fighting food poverty and addressing food waste

2014: Brussels, Belgium - The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) conference “Food donation: Fighting food poverty and addressing food waste, held in Brussels last 7 July, focused on food donation as a key factor in fighting food poverty and addressing food waste. During the conference, the first Comparative Study on EU Member States legislation and practices on food donation was also presented [more]