One out of every four food calories intended for people is not ultimately consumed. The Protocol seeks to address the challenges of measuring food loss and waste.
A significant share of food grown is not eaten. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 32 percent of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted. In this context, “food loss and waste” refers to the edible parts of plants and animals that are produced or harvested for human consumption but that are not ultimately eaten by people. When converted into calories, global food loss and waste amount to approximately 24 percent of all food produced. In short, one out of every four food calories intended for people is not ultimately consumed.
Contribution to Global Initiatives
The Protocol will support the efforts of the FAO-led Save Food initiative, and support Pillar 1 of the UNEP-led Think.Eat.Save Global Framework for Action, which addresses the need for a “common framework for measurement”.
Such a large inefficiency has significant impacts on people and the planet. It can make people and countries less food secure. It can reduce farmer incomes and increase costs to end consumers and companies in the food value chain. And it can lead to wasted water, wasted energy, and unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions.
If the old adage “what gets measured gets managed” is true, then this high rate of food loss and waste is not surprising. Countries and companies fail to collect data on food loss and waste in ways that are systematically measured, frequently collected, and comparable across geographies. Therefore, if one does not know how much or where food loss and waste is occurring, how can one take action to reduce it?
The Global Food Loss and Waste Protocol seeks to address the challenges of measuring food loss and waste. Developed via an expert- and stakeholder-engagement process, the Protocol will be a globally consistent approach and guidance for countries and companies to measure and monitor the food loss and waste that occurs within their boundaries and value chains. It seeks to harmonize measurement approaches, ensure international consistency, enable comparability between geographies and entities, and facilitate transparency across users. It will provide a modular approach with guidance on multiple aspects of measuring food loss and food waste, including (but not limited to):
What definitions to use;
What should be measured and how often;
How to set boundaries or “scopes” for what to measure;
What unit(s) of measure to use;
What types of data sources are appropriate and available;
What quantification methods are appropriate;
How to evaluate trade-offs between accuracy, completeness, relevance, and cost;
What level of accuracy is needed to meet various goals; and
How to report results.
Benefits of a Protocol
What it answers
What it enables
What methods should be used?
Gives confidence that methods are robust, credible, and globally accepted
Provides consistency and comparability
Prevents “reinvention of the wheel”
Accelerates transfer of best practices between regions and companies
How much is being lost and wasted?
Quantifies the amount of loss and waste
Helps set baselines, formulate targets, benchmark, measure, and report
Supports the development of relevant prevention and reduction strategies
Where is it happening?
Identifies where loss and waste is occurring
Highlights who to engage
Provides guidance in the development of practical action plans