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UNRIC Library Backgrounder: Food Waste



Food loss is defined as “the decrease in quantity or quality of food” and are the agricultural or fisheries products intended for human consumption that are ultimately not eaten by people or that have incurred a reduction in quality reflected in their nutritional value, economic value or food safety. An important part of food loss is “food waste”, which refers to the discarding or alternative (non-food) use of food that was fit for human consumption – by choice or after the food has been left to spoil or expire as a result of negligence.

Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction (FAO 2014)

Food waste is a problem mainly in industrialized countries, with retailers and consumers throwing away perfectly edible foodstuffs. Per capita waste by consumers is between 95 and 115 kilogrammes a year in Europe and North America. In sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia, consumers throw away only 6 to 11 kilogrammes a year.

Feeding the World Sustainably / by José Graziano Da Silva (UN Chronicle, 2012)


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September 2020
not an official document – for information only

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