December is Food Loss and Waste Month on Agrilinks
Welcome to the inaugural Food Loss and Waste Month on Agrilinks! As we approach the holiday season, many of you are likely making plans to join family and friends over delicious meals. Unfortunately, we know a global food security crisis is forcing tens of millions of people into hunger, and the situation is likely to get worse as conflict and climate shocks continue. With availability, access and utilization of nutritious and safe food constrained, especially among the most vulnerable, we must not lose sight of how reducing food loss and waste can mitigate the effects of the crisis.
Food loss and waste (FLW) impacts all of us — from uneaten holiday leftovers to that inconspicuous bag of salad greens that lingers in the back of your refrigerator. A staggering 30 to 40 percent of food produced is either lost or wasted throughout the farm-to-consumer supply chain. Of the 1.4 billion tons of food wasted globally every year, the United States discards 67 million tons, making food the single largest component taking up U.S. landfills. When food rots, it emits methane, a powerful greenhouse gas with 84 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. As a result, FLW contributes approximately 8 to 10 percent of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. If FLW were a country, it would be the third largest producer of carbon dioxide in the world after the United States and China. FLW is not only harmful to the environment, but it is also a missed opportunity to deliver needed calories and nutrition to food-insecure populations. These losses equate to one out of every four food calories intended for human consumption being lost, enough to feed 2 billion people.
On the heels of the COP27 Climate Conference in Egypt and Climate Month on Agrilinks, we turn the spotlight on FLW and the role of food systems in mitigating the impacts of climate change. USAID reaffirms its commitment to addressing FLW by leveraging existing programming and prioritizing this work in the U.S. Government-level strategies to simultaneously mitigate climate change, improve nutritional outcomes and enhance agricultural efficiency. USAID is aligned with global efforts on this issue, specifically the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 12.3, which aims, by 2030, to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including pre- and post-harvest losses.
This month, we shed light on the linkages between FLW and climate, nutrition and food security, food safety and more. We will be sharing a series of blog posts and resources from our partners, featuring examples from the field and actionable recommendations for the development community. Blog posts will span topics related to the role of the private sector and youth, the power of technologies to improve cold chain and post-harvest handling, and much more. For an introduction to what FLW is and how we can address it, please listen to our FLW 101 Podcast episode.
And don’t forget to subscribe to USAID’s Kitchen Sink Podcast to listen to our special episode this month!
Please bookmark this post and follow @Agrilinks and @FeedtheFuture on Twitter to see the latest news and updates. If you would like to submit a post or resource to Agrilinks or share what you are doing to address FLW, please reach out to [email protected].