UNECE and the Food Loss Challenge

Quality to prevent food loss and waste

UNECE’s quality standards for the safe and transparent trade of food and agricultural produce ensure that the consumers in rural and urban areas receive a constant supply of high-quality, healthy and nutritious food. Maintaining the quality of food traded from the farm to the shop through international best practice reduces losses, enhances the economic value of food trade, opens income opportunities and alleviates health risks for the more vulnerable city dwellers. The trade in and availability of good quality food is a prerequisite for sustaining the growing population and facing the climate and environmental challenges. In addition, creating sustainable employment in rural areas for woman and youth through the redistribution of food otherwise lost or wasted helps address the rural-to-city migration problem.

UNECE has addressed the food loss challenge since 2013 – including in view of enhancing the circular economy in its member states. Through the constant review of its quality standards for agricultural produce traded internationally and nationally, we ensure that the quality of the produce used and traded is maintained along the entire supply chain. Food loss is therefore prevented and reduced. We also focus on the food lost in the trade process before it reaches the consumer and even retail. These often-neglected hotspots for food loss are at heart of the work of our expert groups.

Our innovative solutions provide tools and holistic, impactful solutions for governments and the private sector and enhance the circular economy. Their core aim is to prevent, reduce and keep as much food as possible in the human consumption chain; repurposing and redistributing to feed all, create income possibilities and employment opportunities and support climate change action.

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The economic and food security dimension

The overall economic result of food loss and waste is immense and even larger for the vulnerable populations as food becomes less available or prices are affected leading to food insecurity. Financial resources are used to produce huge quantities of food that are never consumed and would be enough to feed the population. Therefore, there is a strong business and food security case for addressing the food loss/waste challenge.

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The climate dimension

Climate change and food loss/waste are closely related. According to the latest estimates, 8% of the greenhouse gas emissions are caused by food that is lost and wasted. Food loss and waste impacts water and land resources and biodiversity.

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