Food Security: International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste (IDAFLW)


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The International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste is marked on September 29. This year will mark the fourth time the world has observed it. The day is used to raise awareness about food wastage and find ways to solve that and promote better ways of food management. 

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According to the United States Department of Agriculture, about 1.3 billion tonnes of food goes to waste annually. This represents one-third of the food produced. Let’s learn more about this subject.

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Difference Between Food Loss and Waste

The difference between food loss and food waste is where it happens. The former takes place during the production stage, and the latter at the retail and/or consumer level. 

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Reasons for Food Loss and Waste

There are a lot of things that lead to food loss and food waste. We’ll outline the causes for both. 

What Causes Food Loss?

Damage by Weather

Too much flooding or lack of rain leads to crop failure. The expected harvest never comes out and goes to the market.

Pesticide Infestation

Farmers are forced to plant more food than is needed due to pest infestation to meet the demands of the market. The portion that’s been eaten away by the pests is considered lost.

Declining Demand in the Market

When farmers can’t make a profit from food production, they opt to let food go to waste.  

Lack of Meeting Standards

Some of the food produced fails to meet the standards of the market and is thus rejected.

Loss During Transportation

Perishable foods tend to go bad during transportation and subsequent lack of storage. 

What Causes Food Waste?

Improper Storage

Some people don’t store food properly, and thus, it goes bad and is thrown away. 

Serving Large Proportion

Some people serve more food than they can eat. This means that the remaining food is thrown away. This happens at home and when eating out

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Some households buy food in bulk with the plan of using it in the coming days and weeks. Unfortunately, some go bad before they are consumed.


Cooking more food than is necessary leads to having leftovers. If not handled properly, the leftovers go bad.

Poor Planning

Buying food without a plan leads to getting unnecessary items that will go unused. Also, adding surplus food deliveries leads to wastage. 

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Impact of Food Loss and Waste

Climate Change

Food lost and wasted contributes to the production of greenhouse gas emissions. This leads to climate change and global warming.

Extinction of Different Species

As farmers look for ways to maximise their production, they encroach into areas that animals inhabit looking for fertile lands. This leads to their extinction. 

Economic Loss

Agriculture is a big part of many countries’ economies. The rate of food loss and food waste means that a large portion of revenue is wiped out annually. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that $750 billion is lost annually. 

Wastage of Water

Water used to make food goes to waste when the food does. It’s estimated that about 250 cubic kilometres of water is wasted, the equivalent of thrice the volume in Lake Geneva.

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Prevention of Food Loss and Waste

How can the world reduce its food wastage and food loss? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is encouraging countries to invest in good technology, put up proper infrastructure, and support innovation that will improve the food systems. Some of the preventive measures include:

  • Educating consumers on the impact of food loss and waste will lead to better care. Letting them know about the shelf life and how to store and prepare food is crucial in food handling.
  • Bring stakeholders on both ends to set goals that everyone can work towards. Create standardized procedures and policies that are interconnected for maximum efficiency across the food-making process.
  • Coming up with solutions that address the problems and their cause. This involves different sectors like research, development partners and using new models among other methods to create a lasting impact.
  • Always track the progress over stipulated periods to measure improvement and where the weaknesses lie.

How do you mark the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste? What do you do to avoid food loss and waste?

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