Globally, about one-third of food produced for human consumption every year (approximately 1.3 billion tonnes) is either lost or wasted while moving from farm to fork. In developing countries, like India, losses occur more from poor supply chains because of poor infrastructure, while in developed countries it is wasted at the retail and consumer end because of higher standards or sheer neglect. Apart from leading to less food available for all, food loss and wastage entail loss of precious scarce resources – water, land, energy, labour, capital – and adversely affect the environment with greater greenhouse gas emissions, leading to global warming and climate change. Both sets of countries need to do a lot to transform this situation, and save precious natural resources. It is much more cost-effective and sustainable to save the food already produced rather than to keep producing more and more to rot. This can be done by building strong, efficient, compressed and reliable value chains in developing countries through investment in infrastructure, institutional changes and innovation in technology, products, practices and policies. Particularly, the role of packaging at the farm level before moving the produce to processing units/wholesalers/ retailers needs to be recognised in a country like India where packaging is minimal and the absence thereof causes qualitative and quantitative food losses. The situation in industrialised countries requires better production management, de-emphasising appearance standards, more explanatory date marking systems, and raising awareness among consumers about better buying, cooking and recycling methods. This can save food wastages at the retail and consumer levels.


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