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Unit: 1. Definition of food waste FoRWaRD

consumption. Significant food loss and waste do, however, also occur earlier in the food
supply chain.

a) In industrialized countries food gets lost when production exceeds
The discrepancy between demand and supply, a major cause of food wastage, ranges
from farmers not finding a market for their products and leaving them rot in the field, to
mothers cooking for five family members while only 3 actually show-up for dinner, to
supermarkets downsizing product orders at the last minute, leaving producers with unsalable
products. Due to miss-communication and perverse signals and incentives all along the supply
chain, food is lost or wasted and, together with it, all the natural resources used to create it.
Tackling food wastage requires better communication between the different parts of the
supply chain to better balance the demand and the offer, such as farmers discussing
production with their neighbours and establishing a harvesting calendar to prevent flooding
the market.

b) Bad communication between different stakeholders in the supply
The different actors involved in the food supply chain (e.g. producers, food processors,
retailers, consumers) are heavily interdependent and their actions and practices influence each
other’s decisions. Rejection of food products on the basis of aesthetic or safety concerns is
often cited as the major cause of food losses and waste. For example, farmers often have to
discard between 20 and 40 percent of their fresh produce because it doesn’t meet the cosmetic
specification of retailers.

Waste due to overproduction – when a manufacturer makes more of a product than the
supermarket can actually sell.

c) In developing countries and, sometimes, developed countries, food
may be lost during food harvest.
Food losses that occur during harvest, post-harvest, and processing phases are most
likely in developing countries, due to poor infrastructure, low levels of technology and low
investment in the food production systems. In developed countries, food waste mostly occurs
further along the supply chain, at the retailing and consumption levels.

Food losses during harvest and storage translate into lost income for farmers and into
higher prices for consumers, but also have a big environmental cost, as most of the natural
resources are used at the beginning of the supply chain. Reducing losses could therefore have
an immediate and significant positive impact on livelihoods, food security and natural
resources. Harvest losses have several causes, including timing of the harvest, as well as
harvesting techniques, equipment and conditions.

d) Lack of processing facilities.
Lack of processing facilities causes high food losses in developing countries. In many
situations, the food processing industry doesn’t have the capacity to process and preserve

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