Food loss measured to reduce waste, malnourishment

Global annual food waste is pegged at $940 billion.  |  File photo

BARCELONA, Spain (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — A new global standard for measuring food loss and waste will help countries and companies step up efforts to store, transport and consume food more efficiently, its backers said June 6.

One-third of all food, by weight, is spoiled or thrown away worldwide as it moves from where it is produced to where it is eaten, costing globally up to $940 billion per year, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated.

The Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard is the first set of international definitions and reporting requirements for businesses, governments and other organizations to measure and manage food loss and waste, with the aim of reducing it, its creators said.

The effort hopes to channel more food to the 800 million people who are undernourished around the world and cut emissions from the production of uneaten food, which account for eight percent of the total contributing to climate change.

“There’s simply no reason that so much food should be lost and wasted,” said Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, which has led work on the standard.

“Now we have a powerful new tool that will help governments and businesses save money, protect resources and ensure more people get the food they need,” he added in a statement.

Often companies, countries or cities lack information about how much, why and where food is removed from the supply chain. Definitions of food loss and waste also vary widely, making comparisons hard, according to a document on the new standard.

“It is challenging to manage what you do not measure,” it noted.

Other organizations that developed the standard include the Consumer Goods Forum, the FAO, the UN’s Environment Program and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

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