Reducing agro-food induced GHG emissions through effective FLW reducing strategies


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 explores 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. 

The focus for 2019-2021 is to extend the methodology applied in previous limited case studies (2016-2018) to a more applicable methodology with a broad underlying data set.

Expected outcomes

  • Contribution to at least 6 policy decisions taken based on the insight into the relation between food loss and waste and GHG emissions leading to adoption and facilitation of measures for reducing food loss and waste and thus GHG emissions.
  • The project will work on at least 4 agricultural development initiatives where - built on CCAFS science - interventions will be implemented, monitored and evaluated to reduce food loss and waste and thus GHG emissions.

Gender and youth

Several case studies will be oriented on solutions beneficial to women and youth. The project work will take gender constraints and opportunities into consideration in value chain and activity mapping, so that this insight will feed into the policy decisions.

More information

For more information, please contact project leader Jan Broeze, WUR (

Project Activities

The ACE calculator estimates FLW, GHG emissions per unit food sold to consumer, FLW-associated GHG emissions. For interventions it calculates trade-offs between FLW reduction and GHG emissions. In 2020 the tool was extended with more detailed data, which can be used instead of the averages. …..
Activities for 2021:
- Enriching the data (currently mainly secondary data) with new data to be collected with students and through co-operation with industries and other parties in developing countries
- Offer the tool for monitoring. Use the Dutch-led round tables to promote the use of the calculator.
- Extending the tool for specific users, tailered to the specific details of industries who want to apply their tool e.g. for extension services (e.g. difference between rice threshing methods)
- Extending the tool with some critical interventions in the production chain (alternative sourcing of starting material, utilizing food losses and side streams for feed).

Action research, aligned with industries and other private parties.
4 case studies are set up in different contexts and with a different focus of interventions to reduce FLW and GHG emissions. Case studies are defined together with stakeholders from industry and sustainable development organisations, based on priority areas and improvement opportunities as identified in WP3. The ambition is to select at least 1-2 cases beneficial for women and/or youth.
We aim for estimating FLW data for existing situation and with interventions with these parties, missing values will be derived from existing project (think of YieldWise initiatives or others), secondary data (WP4), model-wise estimated and/or expert estimated.

Improvement opportunities (IO's) will be assessed through:
- Food security contribution
- GHG emissions
- Techno-economic feasibility
Progress will be discussed in individual meetings per case (with an eye on confidential data).
Generic results will be presented at conferences.

Shortlist: potato (Kenya), rice (Olam)

We have prioritized hotspots for FLW and GHG emissions, based on secondary data (FAOSTAT, Porter et al. (2016). Through WP4 we collect more specific and accurate data for countries, regions, food categories and chain configurations, which will be used to further detail the analysis and results.
This analysis leads to prioritise crop/food product categories with significant GHG of FLW per global region. FLW-attributed GHG emissions and effects of interventions will be estimated through the existing CO2 model.
The set of interventions from WP2 will be enriched co-operation with scientists, sustainable development organisations and industry stakeholders.
2020: actualization of data + using more refined parameters (from WP 4).
2021: analyse + identify priorities together with industrial parties + platform organisations

Global project management.

The data set for default crops GHG emissions and FLW along the chain is specified to avarage values per crop category (like 'cereals', 'dairy', 'vegetables') and per global region (like Latin America, Sub-Sahara Africa). To make the model more relevant, we started a process of further refining the data (add case-specific data, including geographic specification,, technology specification (like 'open field production with fertilisers') etc.
Also specifications of the analysis (FLW protocol, system boundaries, yes/no land use change included, etc.) will be specified.
Case-specific data from literature will be used, next to potential connection to related tools (Quantis FLW value creation tool, Cool Farm Tool, etc.).
A way-of-working was set up to adopt results from studies by third parties, including CLIFF-GRADS students (2019).

In addition a review of FLW reducing interventions for countries, regions, food categories and chain configurations, which will be used to further detail the analysis and results.

Project Deliverables

  • The goals of the project, way of working and intermediate results are included in presentations / workshops / discussions at different gremia targeting relevant stakeholders.