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, 2016–2020


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

An unacceptably high proportion of food is lost along the supply chain before it even reaches the consumer

Reducing food loss and waste is critical to improving the food security situation of vulnerable groups and decreasing the environmental footprint of food production activities. Achieving this target has the potential to contribute to several dimensions of the 2030 Agenda, such as eradicating food insecurity and hunger, improving sustainable water management, addressing climate change, and improving sustainability of both marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

Although limited data is available, it is estimated that globally around 14 percent of the world’s food is lost from production before reaching the retail level. These estimates vary across regions, going from as high as 20.7 percent in Central Asia and Southern Asia to 8.9 and 5.8 percent in Oceania and Australia and New Zealand respectively. Estimates also vary across commodity groups and across different stages of the food supply chain. It is important for countries to identify priority commodities and the subsequent stages where high losses occur in order to apply targeted intervention. Considerable reduction of food loss is possible through the identification of these critical loss points and taking appropriate countermeasures. To this end, data collection efforts are urgently needed for countries to develop evidence-based, targeted interventions.

Training resources

Training Course on Post-Harvest Losses in Grains and Pulses (EN | FR)

Guidelines on the measurement of harvest and post-harvest losses

Grains and pulses | Field test reports (Ghana Malawi | Zimbabwe)

Fruits and vegetables | Field test report in Mexico 

Animal products | Field test report in Zambia 

Fish and fish products | Field test report in Guyana

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