Chain Food Waste Along the Food


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Please cite this paper as: Bagherzadeh, M., M. Inamura and H. Jeong (2014), “Food Waste Along the Food Chain”, OECD Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Papers, No. 71, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5jxrcmftzj36-en
OECD Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Papers No. 71
Food Waste Along the Food Chain
Morvarid Bagherzadeh, Mitsuhiro Inamura, Hyunchul Jeong
JEL Classification: Q18, Q53, Q58

OECD FOOD, AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES PAPERS
This paper is published under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD. The opinions expressed and the arguments employed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views of OECD member countries.
The publication of this document has been authorised by Ken Ash, Director of the Trade and Agriculture Directorate.
Comments are welcome and may be sent to [email protected]

Abstract
FOOD WASTE ALONG THE FOOD CHAIN
by
Morvarid Bagherzadeh, OECD, France Mitsuhiro Inamura, OECD, France Hyunchul Jeong, OECD, France
Reducing food losses and food waste is attracting growing public attention at the international, regional, and national levels, and is widely acknowledged to contribute to abating interlinked sustainability challenges such as food security, climate change, and water shortage. However, the pattern and scale of food waste throughout the supply chain remains poorly understood, despite growing media coverage and public concerns in recent years.
This paper takes stock of available data on food waste and explores policies related to food waste in OECD countries.
Keywords: agricultural losses, food loss, food waste, food waste reduction, grain storage, municipal solid waste, food value chain, data, policy information
JEL classification: Q180, Q530, Q580
This work was developed by a team consisting of Morvarid Bagherzadeh, Mitsuhiro Inamura and Hyunchul Jeong, with the active participation of the Working Party on Agricultural Policies and Markets and of the Food Chain Analytical Network. It benefited from research assistance by François Becette, Yuya Takada and Fatima Yaagoub. Administrative and editing assistance were provided throughout the project by Martina Abderrahmane.

FOOD WASTE ALONG THE FOOD CHAIN – 3

Table of contents

Executive Summary ................................................................................................................................... 4
1. Introduction......................................................................................................................................... 5 2. Global and regional food waste estimates .......................................................................................... 6 3. The OECD food waste dataset .......................................................................................................... 12 4. The policy context of food waste...................................................................................................... 19 5. Conclusion ........................................................................................................................................ 26
References ................................................................................................................................................ 27

Tables
Table 1.
Table 2. Table 3. Table 4. Table 5.

Illustration of edible-avoidable and inedible-unavoidable food waste. An example used in the United Kingdom ........................................................................... 9 Waste amounts in EU27 ................................................................................................... 11 Measurement units used ................................................................................................... 16 Overview of food waste variables at household level- 2010 ............................................ 17 Strategies and actions on food waste by different entities................................................ 20

Figures
Figure 1. Figure 2. Figure 3. Figure 4.

Food loss and waste along the value chain......................................................................... 8 Food use hierarchy ........................................................................................................... 10 Food waste dataset coverage ............................................................................................ 15 Selected examples of food waste by economic activity ................................................... 19

Boxes
Box 1. Discussions on a possible reference definition of food loss and food waste............................... 7 Box 2. The food recovery hierarchy ..................................................................................................... 10 Box 3. Reducing and recycling food waste in Korea............................................................................ 13

OECD FOOD, AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES PAPER N°70 © OECD 2014

4 – FOOD WASTE ALONG THE FOOD CHAIN
Executive Summary
This paper is one part of a response to increased awareness of, and interest in, reducing unnecessary waste in the food system. Its aim is to take stock of food waste statistics that currently exist and to explore existing policies related to food waste.
Data and policy information were collected from public sources and subsequently validated through bilateral contacts with experts in order to improve the information base. This exercise helped identify a number of methodological issues, the most important being the absence of a commonly agreed definition of food waste.
The Fourth OECD Food Chain Analysis Network Meeting (20-21 June 2013) offered an opportunity to discuss and improve the data and identify policy issues relevant to food waste. Bringing together stakeholders from the food sector, the Network helped to validate available data on food waste and offered a platform for dialogue between policy communities, business, academia and others with an interest in reducing food waste. Actions by both the private and public sectors require a better understanding of the magnitude of food waste and of its causes.
Data availability on food waste and loss generated at household level is relatively good across OECD countries and time. Very little is known about food waste in the primary, the manufacturing and related services sectors (covering both distribution and out-of-home eating).
Legal frameworks covering food waste exist in most countries. However, these frameworks address waste management in general and in most cases are not specifically adapted to food. As food waste attracts increased public attention, increased regulatory activity to address this issue might be expected.
When emphasis shifts from waste management to improving the overall resource and economic efficiency of food production and use, there is greater scope to widen the network of agencies and stakeholders involved. This includes involving the private sector that directly influences the amount of discarded food prior to household consumption, including through voluntary standards.
While there are many regional and international initiatives that endeavour to define, measure and reduce food waste is a positive indication of the momentum around food waste prevention and reduction, close coordination across initiatives is necessary to avoid yielding multiple and incompatible outcomes, and instead contribute to a more coherent and evidence based understanding.
OECD FOOD, AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES PAPER N°70 © OECD 2014

FOOD WASTE ALONG THE FOOD CHAIN – 5

1. Introduction
Reducing food waste1 and increasing resource use efficiency in the food chain has received growing attention at the international, regional and national levels. In 2010, Ministers of Agriculture requested the OECD to explore ways to reduce food waste in the food chain and in 2011 the OECD Green Growth Strategy identified reducing food waste as a means to increase the available food supply and to reduce pressures on resources and the climate.
This paper responds to this interest; it takes stock of available data on food waste and explores policies related to food waste in OECD countries. Secondary information sources were supplemented by a one-time survey questionnaire on food waste.2 Furthermore, views from public and private sector representatives engaged in reducing food waste throughout the food supply chain were solicited in a dialogue on food waste hosted by the OECD Food Chain Analysis Network in June 2013.
The paper is structured as follows. Section 2 provides an overview of global and regional food waste estimates. Section 3 provides the preliminary OECD food waste dataset. Section 4 provides an overview of the policy related to food waste. Section 5 concludes.
Why reduce food waste?
Food waste is seen as an obstacle to achieving food and nutrition security for the millions of undernourished around the world. Furthermore most societies attach an ethical and moral dimension to food waste. Although, reducing food waste in medium and high income countries may not directly help tackle food insecurity in low income countries, it reduces competition on limited water, land and biodiversity resources; making these resources available for other uses. Edible food that would otherwise be wasted could be redistributed to food insecure populations in local communities in medium and high income countries, and in low income countries alike.
The consumption of water resources and land used for the production of uneaten food remains a challenge to the environment. Food waste is also a major component of waste going into municipal landfills, a significant source of methane. According to the FAO report in 2013, food that is produced but not eaten is responsible for adding 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases to the planet’s atmosphere that makes up food wastage as the third top emitter after the United States and China (FAO, 2013).
A third incentive is economic. Reducing food waste can increase the efficiency of the food supply chain and bring economic benefits, including lower costs for businesses and lower prices for consumers. Business examples exist where innovative production

1

In the absence of a consensus on the distinction between food waste, food wastage or food loss, this

document uses the term food waste unless specifically reporting the other designations. More detailed

information on issues relating to definitions is provided in Section 2 and Box 1 of this document.

2

An ad hoc questionnaire was added to the Annual Quality Assurance exercise of the “OECD reference

data for environmental indicators”, which was carried out under the auspices of the OECD Working

Party on Environmental Information (WPEI) of the Environment Policy Committee in October 2012.

OECD FOOD, AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES PAPER N°70 © OECD 2014

6 – FOOD WASTE ALONG THE FOOD CHAIN
methods turned what would have otherwise been wasted into inputs to new products.3 In other cases, the food manufacturing industry or the retail sector is prepared to pay for the removal of surplus food that would be otherwise wasted. New businesses are created that collect, handle and deliver this surplus to food banks.4 Social innovation plays and important role in initiating such social economy businesses.
The importance of reducing food waste in order to increase the efficiency of the food supply chain from the social, environmental and economic points of view was repeatedly raised by participants in the OECD Food Chain Analysis Network in June 2013.5
Attempts have been made to analyse the effects of reducing food waste using a partial equilibrium model (Rutten, 2013).6 Standard economic theory suggests that reducing food waste could increase supply and shift the supply curve right, lowering prices and increasing consumption overall. Alternatively, reducing food waste could decrease demand and consumption, thereby decreasing quantities and prices. Very little is known about the impact of changes in levels of food waste on welfare gain or loss or on the magnitude of the impact of price levels on food waste. The task becomes more complex, and is ultimately an empirical matter, as evaluating the impacts on welfare gain or loss is significantly influenced by data availability on food waste, elasticity of demand and supply, and trade-off between consumers, producers, food commodities and others.
Rising world population, combined with increasing incomes and shifting dietary preferences continue to exert pressure to increase global food supply. There is a potential to provide more food by eliminating waste, while simultaneously freeing up land, energy and water resources for other uses. Finding these opportunities, however, requires understanding the pattern and scale of food waste throughout the supply chain, the incentives and disincentives directed to businesses and consumers, and the policy and regulatory framework on food waste.
2. Global and regional food waste estimates

What is food waste?
To date there are no agreed definitions of “food waste”, “food wastage” or “food loss” (Box 1). “Food losses can be qualitative, such as reduced nutrient value and undesirable changes to taste, texture, or colour, or quantitative as measured by decreased weight or volume” (Buzby and Hyman, 2012). In some cases, food waste is used as a subset of food loss, or vice versa.

3

For example, Provalor is a Dutch firm that has patented industrial processes that extract pulp, colouring

and juice from vegetable rejects. These are used either directly (juice or soups) or as input to the food

industry (colouring and vegetal thickeners).

4

One example of such a business is Allwin, a business operating in Sweden on private funds. It collects

food that would otherwise be discarded from retailers and the food industry and provides it to non-profit

organisations that distribute food to the needy.

5

The programme of the 4th Meeting of the Food Chain Analysis Network is available on the meeting

website together with material presented at the meeting (http://www.oecd.org/site/agrfcn/4thmeeting20-

21june2013.htm).

6

More recently the OECD-FAO Aglink-Cosimo model has been applied to assess market effects of

reducing food loss and waste, see TAD/CA/APM/WP(2014)35/FINAL.

OECD FOOD, AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES PAPER N°70 © OECD 2014

FOOD WASTE ALONG THE FOOD CHAIN – 7
Box 1. Discussions on a possible reference definition of food loss and food waste
Finding a commonly agreed definition is key to measuring food waste in a consistent way across sectors and countries. A number of initiatives are currently on-going that attempt to achieve consensus on such a definition, some from different perspectives and with different foci. While the multiplicity of these initiatives is a positive indication of the momentum on food waste prevention and reduction they should not compromise future by yielding incompatible results.
As part of the Save Food initiative, the FAO has endeavoured to develop a “reference” definition for food waste and food loss. The definitions below have been circulated as possible starting points:
Food Loss and Waste refer to the decrease in mass (quantitative) or nutritional value (qualitative) of food - edible parts - throughout the supply chain that was intended for human consumption. Food that was originally meant for human consumption but which gets out the human food chain is considered as food loss or waste, even if it is then directed to a non-food use (feed, bioenergy).
Food Loss refers to food that during its process in the food supply chain gets spilled, spoilt or otherwise lost, or incurs reduction of quality and value, before it reaches its final product stage. Food loss typically takes place at production, postharvest, processing and distribution stages in the food supply chain.
Food Waste refers to food that completes the food supply chain up to a final product, of good quality and fit for consumption, but still does not get consumed because it is discarded, whether or not after it is left to spoil. Food waste typically (but not exclusively) takes place at retail and consumption stages in the food supply chain.”
In a collaborative initiative called “Creating a sustainable food future” (Lipinski et al.), the UNEP together with the World Resources Institute have used food loss as “food that spills, spoils, incurs an abnormal reduction in quality such as bruising or wilting, or otherwise gets lost before it reaches the consumer” while food waste refers to “food that is of good quality and fit for human consumption but that does not get consumed because it is discarded - either before or after it spoils”.
One dimension of the EU-wide FUSIONS7 initiative currently underway is to assess food waste quantities and trends in food waste prevention and reduction within the EU27 by establishing a standard approach on definitions of food waste, including the preparation of a handbook.
There is no clear consensus on some of the concepts used in these definitions. A few examples are described below:
 The distinction between food loss and food waste has been used to characterise withdrawal of food from the supply chain that occurs either at or before final consumption, or alternatively, allows a distinction between what is considered as evitable or inevitable withdrawal.
 “Edible” food is not a concept that applies uniformly through time and across countries. Business practices, private standards, regulatory and food safety frameworks differ across countries and influence food waste generation in varying degrees. Furthermore, changes in food consumption behaviour and innovation in production processes contribute to moving the border line separating edible and inedible food.

7

FUSIONS (Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising Waste Prevention Strategies) aims to

achieving a more resource efficient Europe by significantly reducing food waste. It has established a

European Multi-Stakeholder Platform to generate a shared vision and strategy to prevent food loss and

waste across the whole supply chain through social innovation. The project runs for four years, from

August 2012 to July 2016. It is funded by the European Commission Framework Programme 7 (as

described in http://www.eu-fusions.org/)

OECD FOOD, AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES PAPER N°70 © OECD 2014

8 – FOOD WASTE ALONG THE FOOD CHAIN
 Although most commodities are destined either to food or to other use at production, it may be the case that the final use of some agricultural commodities be determined at the end of the production process and in light of market conditions. This is the case for example for some commodities that can be used indifferently as input to feed or biofuels.
In cases where health and diet are the focus, food intake is preferred to food consumption; this is relevant to food waste in so far as food intake in excess of reference levels is considered as waste. However estimation methods of food intake and food consumption serve different purposes, generally related to public health and diet. This is the reason why results cannot be used in the context of food waste.

The causes of food loss and waste and their occurrence along the value chain are also discussed in a collaborative piece by the UNEP and WRI (Lipinski et al., 2013).

Figure 1.

Food loss and waste along the value chain

Definition
During or immediately after harvesting on the farm

After produce leaves the farm for handling, storage, and transport

Includes Fruits bruised during picking or threshing

Edible food eaten by pests

Crops sorted out postharvest for not meeting quality standards Crops left behind in fields due to poor mechanical harvesting or sharp drops in prices

Edible produce degraded by fungus or disease Livestock death during transport to slaughter or not accepted for slaughter

Source: Based on Lipinski et al., 2013.

During industrial or domestic processing and/or packaging

During distribution to markets, including losses at wholesale and retail markets

Milk spilled during pasteurization and processing Edible fruit or grains sorted out as not suitable for processing Livestock trimming during slaughtering and industrial processing

Edible produce sorted out due to quality
Edible products expired before being purchased
Edible products spilled or damaged in market

Losses in the home or business of the consumer, including restaurants/caterers
Edible products sorted out due to quality
Food purchased but not eaten
Food cooked but not eaten

Food waste and loss are sometimes classified into two broad categories – avoidable and unavoidable. For industry, avoidable food waste includes damaged stocks and products that have not been used. Food waste occurs for a number of reasons, including over-purchasing, poor preparation, and inadequate storage, and excessive serving sizes. While avoidable food waste could be prevented (for example through better planning), unavoidable food waste consists of unsellable or inedible food. Available technology and economic efficiency also contribute to determine the distinction between avoidable and unavoidable food waste. Examples of unavoidable food waste are fats, bones and skins of meat, eggshells, and fruit and vegetable peels (Table 1). However, usage and meaning of the terms avoidable, unavoidable, edible and inedible are subject to interpretation and are not universally accepted. Furthermore these notions evolve through time, cultures and culinary habits.

OECD FOOD, AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES PAPER N°70 © OECD 2014

FOOD WASTE ALONG THE FOOD CHAIN – 9

Table 1. Illustration of edible-avoidable and inedible-unavoidable household food waste An example used in the United Kingdom

Edible food waste Avoidable food waste
Inedible food waste Unavoidable food waste

Food that is thrown away that was, at some point prior to disposal, edible (e.g. slices of bread, apples, meat)
Waste arising from food preparation that is not, or has not been, edible under normal circumstances (e.g. bones, egg shells, pineapple skins)

Source: WRAP (2009) Household Food and Drink Waste in the United Kingdom.

In addition to the various definitions, different methodologies and activities in the food chain add to the complexity of quantifying food waste. For example, food waste can be expressed in caloric equivalents, weight, volume or value, all depending on the specific question to be addressed. When different sectors of the food chain are combined, it is extremely difficult to compare data due to differences in scope. For instance, one study (Statistics Canada, 2009) uses a caloric evaluation of food waste for the food chain as a whole, while another study (Buzby et al., 2011), limits the scope to the retail and consumer levels, and evaluates the amount and value of specific commodities.
The differences are often caused by the fact that information is collected and reported by different institutions. Waste management in the food chain involves stakeholders from many areas (Box2). These can be different government areas (agriculture and food safety, consumer health, waste management, environment, etc.), the private sector (food industry and waste processors), international and regional organisations, academia, and nongovernmental organisations. Each institution has its own data collection objectives and priorities and thus different methodologies and targets for estimating food waste and loss.

OECD FOOD, AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES PAPER N°70 © OECD 2014

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Chain Food Waste Along the Food