The global food loss and waste problem has recently popular attention. According to the food and agriculture organization, global food production for human consumption, nearly a third (about 1.3 billion tons per year) loss or waste. Influenced by multiple factors, there are still more serious losses and wastes in the grain storage, transportation, processing and consumption of grain, and the efficiency of food resource utilization is not high. Therefore, reduce the grain loss and waste of food security, reduce food system is the current strengthening of facing the urgent task in the process of impact on the environment.
1.what is Food loss and waste(FLW)?
From the initial stage of agriculture to the final consumption phase, food is lost or wasted throughout the FSC. Three main definitions of food waste can be found in the literature. FAO has identified food waste as a healthy food material for human consumption, produced at any time in the FSC, not just by pests that cause loss, degradation or consumption. Second, Stuart adds a definition, stating that food waste should also include edible materials fed to animals or food processing by-products that are not part of the human food chain. Finally, Smil suggests that food waste includes the above definition, while increasing the gap between over-nutrition, the value of energy per capita in consumption of food and the value of food energy needed per capita. A broader range is given by Stuart’s concept of food surplus and food waste management.
Food waste or loss refers to the quality reduction for the entire human race of edible food in the FSC. During the production, harvesting and processing phases of the FSC, food loss or deterioration occurs. The term food waste is often more concerned with behavioral issues in the final stages of the FSC, such as retail and final consumption. Food losses, on the contrary, are more related to systems that require infrastructure investment.
The difference between the words ‘ food surplus’ and’ food waste’ is crucial to a more sustainable approach to food waste. ” food surplus” can be defined as food that is still fully edible and reusable, but due to standard or no demand, the producer considers no longer using it. Surplus food is produced at every stage of the supply chain from a variety of sources, including farms, manufacturers, supermarkets, local grocery stores, bakeries and restaurants.
Food surplus is often mistakenly referred to as food waste, and the distinctions between the two terms are ignored, as Fareshare points out. Food surplus means food that exceeds our nutritional needs, and waste is the product of oversupply. Food surplus is a safeguard against unforeseen weather patterns affecting crops. It is also reflecting the food supply-to-demand ratio, which rises as HDI (Human Development Index) increases. However, in some countries (e.g. Japan) HDI is relatively high, but the low level of food surplus shows compatibility with food waste development and reduction. The current scale of the global food surplus actually threatens global food security rather than security.
2. The reason of FLW
There are many explanations for the production of food waste which vary greatly in the food supply chain at different stages and backgrounds. Many food losses in developing countries are primarily due to financial, technical and infrastructure constraints after harvest, while food waste is due to food industry in industrialized countries.
The EU Fusions project, which collected almost 300 food waste factors, concluded that there are three factors that are generally relevant to consumers: social factors such as family type, family stage and related lifestyle, personal behavior and food perceptions and expectations, and lack of food knowledge, knowledge and skills for consumers. WRAP found that family composition and age, individual diet, and behavior in food waste were key factors affecting food waste. A research by the European Parliament examines the factors behind changes in social patterns in urbanization and diet composition, as well as the overall culture of consumption. Lack of awareness, attitude or preference was described as the main cause of food waste at the consumer level in the European Commission’s 2010 “Food Waste Preparation Study”.
At the individual consumer level, most experts stressed in particular that the lack of planning and management of food purchases, storage, preparation and reuse was at the heart of the problem. Its roots are limited time and little emphasis on reducing food waste, as well as a lack of knowledge and know-how about food storage and cooking. When buying a product, it is often mentioned that consumers use appearance to estimate the intrinsic product quality. As a result, they will choose a product that looks more attractive and ignore whether it really needs it. Coupled with consumerism and generally low food prices, this means that consumers tend to buy too much food, and they are less concerned about the consequences of waste, which can lead to food waste.
3. The impact of FLW
Food waste has a major economic impact. The economic cost of global food waste in 2007 was estimated at $750 billion. Quest points out that British households have a retail value of about 12 billion pounds of food and drink wasted. The WRAP study estimates that the value of food waste per household per week is between £ 4.80 and £ 7.70, which is equivalent to £ 250-400 per year, and between £ 15,000 and £ 24,000 in life. Food waste accounts for 2-3 percent of UK restaurants total turnover, according to the Sustainable Restaurant Association. Gustavsson and Lundqvist emphasized the economic value of FSC food production. They point out that avoidable food losses have a direct and negative impact on the incomes of farmers and consumers. For farmers living on the edge of food insecurity, reducing food losses can have a direct and significant impact on their livelihoods. For consumers affected by food poverty, access to nutritious, safe and affordable food is a priority.
The final disposals of food waste in agricultural landfills are one of the major environmental effects of food waste. As food waste is disposed of in landfills, methane and carbon dioxide are part of the natural cycle of decomposition. The greenhouse gases responsible for climate change are methane and carbon dioxide, and methane is the most climate-affecting variable of both, with 21 times the energy of carbon dioxide. It is estimated that the waste sector accounts for around 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and Defra has identified food waste as a priority for action waste flows since it accounts for nearly half of UK waste-related CO2 emissions.
The food life cycle period before food is waste is correlated with another environmental impact of food waste. Food-producing practices such as farming (including land-use change), refining, manufacturing, shipping, heating, cooling, and retailing have deep-rooted impacts on greenhouse gases. Farming accounts for almost 22% of total greenhouse gas emissions, and livestock production accounts for about 18% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
Food waste has a social impact in addition to the environmental and economic impacts. These issues tend to focus on the ethical dimension of food waste, especially with regard to waste practices and food poverty inequalities. When global food security issues become more and more relevant on local and global agendas, the process of minimizing the FSC as a whole and the lack of food and diversion in alternate diets are seen as the first step towards achieving food security.
4. How to tackle it ?
First, the problem of date labeling is quite concentrated in consumer-related food waste. Food manufacturers should improve and coordinate the use of date labels to better match how consumers actually handle food that expires too quickly, and then repeatedly educate consumers to understand and use date labels correctly.
Furthermore, changing the conduct of customer household food management in learning and actually developing food skills and information storage to reduce food waste. It is clear, though, that change is not easy, especially given the many other goals and related benefits associated with food and diet. It can tend to be a relatively low priority for customers to avoid food waste. Thus, a promising direction seems to be a combination of action, particularly as collaboration among multiple actors: on the one hand, providing attention-stodgy tips, and on the other hand, increasing motivation and engaging in a win – win situation that underlines multiple ethical reasons.