Reports / Reports

Food Waste and Spoilage

Today, an estimated 470 million smallholder farmers and supply chain actors across developing countries lose an average of 15 percent of their income to food spoilage. Spoilage limits how much of their harvest they can sell, and in times of surplus the risk of spoilage may prompt farmers not to harvest at all to spare themselves the hard labor required for diminishing returns. Another consequence is that the inputs — including labor, water, seed, fertilizer — and their environmental costs are lost along with the product. Over time, these losses compound, land yield drops due to mismanagement, and the overall ecosystem is affected. Food waste, spoilage, and loss are recognized globally as urgent problems. Yet, they are solvable and even preventable.

Solving for food spoilage would feed 1 billion more people by 2050 — many of them across Sub-Saharan Africa, where food insecurity is greatest. But it would mean more than just more food for more people — addressing spoilage would also increase nutritional security, build greater resilience within food systems, and improve farmers’ livelihoods. And it would create benefi ts to the local ecosystems, ensuring that scarce resource inputs such as crop land, freshwater and fertilizer yield useable calories rather than waste, which has both positive nutrition and ecologic impacts.