Page 10 - Luciana Delgado Otero
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Chapter 1





                  1.1 Problem Statement
                  Agri-food systems must be transformed to provide enough quantity of healthy
                  food for everyone in a sustainable way while dealing with the dynamics of (local
                  and  global)  economies  and  the  environment.  Transforming  these  systems
                  requires a combination of research, policies and investments to manage complex
                  trade-offs.

                  Within this context, reducing food loss and waste is widely seen as an important
                  way to reduce production costs and increase the efficiency of food systems (FAO,
                  2019). Since the United Nations have made halving, food loss and food waste a
                  Sustainable  Development Goals  target  (UN,  2015),  the  topic  of  food  loss  and
                  waste  has  captured  the  public  imagination,  and  its  significance  to  the
                  development  community  is  growing  every  day  (FAO,  2019  and  Delgado  et.al
                  2020). Food losses measured through the Food Loss Index (FLI) of FAO (FAO,
                  2019) refer to the estimated 14% of food produced globally (FAO, 2019) that is
                  lost along the distribution chain from harvest to market. Food loss measured in
                  the FLI is valued at 400 billion US dollars per year; not only that; the food lost is
                  associated with around 1.5 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent, 203 billion cubic meters
                  of surface and groundwater (blue water), and 899 million of hectares, equal to
                  around 20% of the world’s agricultural land. From a nutritional point of view, this
                  is equivalent to more than 1,000 trillion milligrams of phosphorus and more than
                  350 trillion milligrams of magnesium.  In addition, UNEP (2021) has measured
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                  that food waste is 17% of all food produced. This is additional 931 million tonnes
                  of food waste was generated in 2019, 61 percent of which came from households,
                  26 percent from food service, and 13 percent from retail.

                  Clearly, the magnitude of impacts in these different policy-relevant dimensions is
                  a call to action. However, linkages between food loss and waste, on the one hand,
                  and food security and environmental impacts, on the other, are complex and
                  need to be thoroughly understood. Positive outcomes from reducing food losses



                  1  These estimates are based on data used to produce FAO’s newly developed Food Loss
                  Index  in  SOFA  (2019),  extrapolating  the  impacts  to  include  commodities  that  are  not
                  included specifically in the FLI commodity groups, but are represented by the groupings.
                  These  estimates  are  lower  bounds  because  pre-harvest  and  harvest  losses  are  not
                  included in the FLI estimate.

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