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Stopping Global Food Loss And Post-Harvest Waste

Food waste is a huge problem globally — almost one-third of all food produced in South Africa alone (totalling ten million tons of edible food) is wasted every year, statistics by the WWF reveal.

Across the world, high rates of post-harvest food loss is a big concern, with 30-40% of all food going to waste before consumption. To fix this issue, infrastructural improvements are being made in various countries to reduce food waste and ensure fresh, healthy produce reaches the maximum number of people.

GAIN: preventing food waste

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) works with local governments and businesses in different countries to identify food products with high rates of post-harvest loss. Equipped with this data, GAIN works with businesses to determine weak points in the supply chain causing the loss, and ways to improve them. Changes to the infrastructure (such as, refrigeration, transportation logistics, and the location of processing facilities) are then implemented. GAIN has been successfully operating in Ethiopia, Indonesia, and Nigeria for the past two years.

Improving infrastructure

In Nigeria, tomatoes were initially found to have one of the highest rates of post-harvest losses — only 50% of 1.8 million metric tons of tomatoes grown by farmers in the North were making it to the big markets, like Lagos, in the South. As a result, investments in cold storage facilities and refrigerated trucks were made to ensure more tomatoes reached the markets in fresh condition. In fact, some producers found their total food loss had reduced to around 5% after the changes were implemented.

Imperfect produce

There’s also the issue of food wasted due to cosmetic reasons like minor bruising, scarring, and insect damage. Grocery stores reject fruits and vegetables too “ugly” for wholesale. Consequently, twenty billion pounds of farmed produce is wasted on American farms alone each year. An increasing number of food subscription boxes are being launched to provide consumers with convenient and regular access to healthy food. Some of these boxes are specifically filled with imperfect produce, sold by farmers to the companies for a fraction of the typical price. The food is just as nutritious and tastes the same as what you’d find in the grocery store.

Similarly, World Disco Soup Day is an annual global event which brings volunteers, chefs, farmers, producers, and visitors together to collect and cook leftover food. Last april, they made over 40,000 meals from food that would otherwise have been thrown away. All these initiatives show rethinking our food systems and consumption habits can reduce post-harvest waste, improve nutrition, and minimise food loss.

Cassie This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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