In recognition of the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste on Tuesday, September 29, the DTU Skylab FoodLab and DTU Biosustain have teamed up to highlight work within the DTU community addressing food loss and waste. Biosustain and Skylab FoodLab will collaborate to explore upcycling food waste and loss by using microbes as a mechanism to process waste streams.
Food loss and waste not only exacerbate the reality that 11% of the world's population (roughly 821 million people) are undernourished despite the availability of edible food, but also drain the many resources, such as water, energy, fertilizer, and labor, required to grow, process, and transport lost or wasted food in the first place (1).
In 2011, the FAO estimated that 1/3 of all the food produced in the world is wasted (2), and the World Wildlife Fund equates that this amounts to 1.3 billion tons of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, seafood, and grains lost or wasted (3). While new estimates are underway to fine-tune our understanding of the magnitude of loss and waste, it is clear that it is too much.
In general terms, the FAO describes food loss and waste as the decrease in quantity or quality of food along the food supply chain. They more specifically differentiate food loss from food waste in terms of where the degradation in quantity or quality occurs along the food supply chain (2):
Food loss occurs along the food supply chain from harvest up to, but not including, the retail level.
Food waste occurs at the retail and consumption levels.
There are 716,000 tons of avoidable food waste in the Danish Food Supply Chain (4).
Given the vast resources used along the food supply chain, it's clear that mitigating food loss and waste is a critical endeavor. In the upcoming months, we will be connecting with others in the DTU community around food loss and waste reduction.
Want to get involved in projects related to food loss and waste? Contact the DTU Skylab FoodLab manager, Roberto Flore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more resources on food loss and waste, please check out some of our favorite resources below:
1. Roser M, Ritchie H. Hunger and Undernourishment. Our World Data [Internet]. 2013 Oct 8 [cited 2020Sep 29]; Available from: https://ourworldindata.org/hunger-and-undernourishment
2. FAO.STATE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE 2019 (SOFA): moving forward on food loss and waste reduction. S.l.: FOOD & AGRICULTURE ORG; 2019.
3. What is food loss and waste? [Internet]. Further With Food. [cited 2020 Sep 23].Available from: https://furtherwithfood.org/what-is-food-loss-and-waste/
4. Tonini D, Brogaard LK-S, Astrup TF. Food waste prevention in Denmark: Identification of hotspots and potentials with Life Cycle Assessment [Internet]. Danish Environmental Protection Agency; 2017 [cited 2019 Nov 25]. Available from:https://orbit.dtu.dk/en/publications/food-waste-prevention-in-denmark-identification-of-hotspots-and-p