Food loss and waste

Project description

Globally, approximately one-third of food is lost or wasted, contributing to ~8% of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions lost or wasted.  Experts predict that food waste will increase further with diet shifts and increased incomes, indicating larger emissions lost and wasted, a situation that is unacceptable in the context of both global food insecurity and the need to mitigate climate change. Reducing food loss and waste therefore is critical. Scientists have found that reducing food loss and waste has high potential for reducing emissions in certain subsectors, and may even contribute to alternative energy production.

This project explores the evidence for how much mitigation could be achieved by reducing food loss and waste, drivers for food loss and waste in supply chains important to mitigation, and strategies for reducing food loss and waste to achieve food- and nutrition- secure food systems while also reducing emissions.

The project is establishing initiatives in selected high-potential value chains and regions with strong consortia that target the reduction of food loss and waste. The project will explore business models and finance, stakeholder incentives, and interventions in the enabling environment.

The project has identified the following priority countries: India, China, Vietnam, Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya. 


In 2016, the project established relationships with stakeholders in agricultural food loss and waste research and practice and identified future partners in targeted value chains. The project made presentations at the 2016 APEC Expert Consultation on Food Loss and Waste, at Food 2030: Consumer and Global Food Systems, and at the Committee of World Food Security 43 conference.

In 2017, the project team developed a production and distrubution chain model combing food losses and food waste with GHG emissions. The GHG emissions are derived from both the food losses and waste and the activities of the different steps in the production and distribution chain. Both primary and secondary data sources are used. The model will be used in case studies to determine the impact of several interventions to reduce food losses and waste on these losses and on the GHG emissions. Use of the model allows a thorough assessment of the interventions. These assessments are useful input for business case development of realisations of the interventions.

In 2018 the project will:

  • Apply the model to assess the link between food loss and waste and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to selected cases in 2018. It will also be made ready to use by others in 2018.
  • Collect data and run pilot case studies in priority value chains.
  • Identify priorities and working with selected companies on business cases on interventions to reduce food loss and waste, and thus GHG emissions
  • Analyze the cost-benefits of interventions, pilots, and possible scaling up and development of sound business models

The project has shared  a poster, Modelling effects of food loss and waste mitigation measures on GHG emissions and a presentation, Post-harvest management: Value chain perspective on economically and environmentally sustainable food chains by Bart van Gogh at the Global Food Security Conference 5 December 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa.

In related work, CCAFS published Working Paper no. 204, Reducing food loss in agricultural development projects through value chain efficiency, on 26 October 2017.


This project is led by Wageningen University & Research (WUR).

Further information

For more information, please contact Toine Timmermans (WUR) at or Nina Waldhauer (WUR) at