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Special Issue "National Food Loss and Waste Prevention Strategies and Monitoring Approaches—an Interdisciplinary Challenge for Decision Makers, Researchers and Practice"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Resources and Sustainable Utilization".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 July 2021) | Viewed by 13689

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Felicitas Schneider
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Thünen Institute of Market Analysis, Bundesallee 63, 38116 Braunschweig, Germany
Interests: food loss and waste prevention; national strategies; cross-border cooperation; quantification methodology; best-practice; policy advice; farm to fork
Mr. Stefan Lange
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Thünen Institute, Bundesallee 50, 38116 Braunschweig, Germany
Interests: food loss and waste prevention; transnational initiatives; policy advice; research policy; implementation of reduction & prevention measures; societal engagement
Dr. Thomas Schmidt
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Thünen Institute of Market Analysis, Bundesallee 63, 38116 Braunschweig, Germany
Interests: food loss and waste prevention measures; monitoring and reporting; sustainability assessment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Only 10 years are left to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, which aims to halve food waste at retail and consumer levels per capita and to reduce food loss along the up-stream food supply chain by 2030. There is finally global awareness regarding food loss and waste, and numerous activities have recently been implemented to tackle the problem on different levels of the food supply chain. Nevertheless, the quantification of food loss and waste on national level is still a challenge and suffers from data gaps. Each quantification methodology bears pros and cons which have to be counterbalanced with national legal, societal, economic and structural frameworks already in place, as well as available financial resources versus expected contribution to scientific knowledge. Beside the quantification of FLW generation itself (e.g., to establish a first baseline), also the setup of reliable long-time national time series, the comparison of produced data with other countries and the holistic impact assessment of implemented prevention measures or the effectiveness of prevention policies challenge decision makers, researchers and practitioners on a global scale. The actual preparedness of countries to quantify food loss and waste and to monitor trends, as well as to draw conclusions from the corresponding data, is poor in general and large differences can be observed among countries. In addition, the literature is lacking in strategic discussions and comparisons of different approaches to tackle FLW on a global scale in line with existing agreements such as SDGs.

The aim of our Special Issue is to address FLW prevention frontrunners and latecomers to the same extent: Both those countries which already have FLW quantification systems in place and struggle to match them with late introduced requirements related to SDG 12.3 indicators provided by FAO and UNEP or other regional legal conditions (such as EU member states), and those countries which have not worked on FLW so far and have the chance to include the latest definitional and methodological requirements into their newly established national FLW strategies, policies and methodologies from the very beginning. Key questions include the following: How to overcome the need of shared inter-ministerial responsibilities related to FLW influencing factors? Where to set the focus on FLW prevention—edible/non-edible, avoidable/unavoidable or total food waste? Should we considering all food and drinks as well as all disposal paths and alternative utilization for animal feed, industrial use and non-food purposes? Should there be a “resource-efficiency”, a “reduce hunger” or a “legal waste definition” based focus? Should we be building up a collaborative approach to close data gaps and to foster cooperation among different stakeholders or implement legal obligations and incentives, or should there be both in parallel? Which data should be collected in addition to aggregated quantities in order to be able to use the same data also for other national and international reporting tasks such as sustainability, climate (e.g., nationally determined contributions), environmental impact or other SDGs? How to encourage stakeholders to participate and how to highlight the advantages for all of them and to lower possible negative impact? How to include expected changes in FLW generation due to climate change, rapid growing cities and change of consumption patterns into national strategies?

We explicitly invite researchers, policy advisors and policy makers from all countries/federal states/regions to contribute with their specific national strategies to overcome the above mentioned challenges as well as authors comparing different approaches highlighting the commons and differences in a suitable manner. Our special issue should provide the best practice, but also obstacles for the implementation of FLW monitoring in order to contribute to further focused discussions, cooperation and research. We encourage authors to submit high quality contributions sharing experiences on building up national/regional strategic networks, cooperation among stakeholders and nations, reliable data collection structures and reporting systems as well as assessment/evaluation of strategies, data and measures.

Dr. Felicitas Schneider
Mr. Stefan Lange
Dr. Thomas Schmidt
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • food loss and waste prevention
  • policy
  • SDG 12.3
  • national strategies
  • evaluation
  • multi-stakeholder cooperation

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Article
Global Food Loss and Waste in Primary Production: A Reassessment of Its Scale and Significance
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 12087; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132112087 - 02 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 861
Abstract
Global statistics on food waste were first reported by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 2011, and since that time, more attention has been given to food waste measurements at the consumer, retail and hospitality stages, whilst efforts to quantify losses [...] Read more.
Global statistics on food waste were first reported by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 2011, and since that time, more attention has been given to food waste measurements at the consumer, retail and hospitality stages, whilst efforts to quantify losses during primary production have been more limited. To provide an updated view of global losses in primary production, data for the harvest and on-farm, post-harvest stages were reassessed through a systematic review of data sources and a selection of datasets for further analysis. To qualify for selection, food-loss measurements needed to be specific to primary production and to particular food commodities and production regions. The analysis covered a split between losses at the harvest and post-harvest stages linked to activity descriptions within the primary data sources. A cross-sectional sample of ten commodity/region case studies was conducted through stakeholder interviews and literature reviews to triangulate food waste estimates and to understand issues relating to food waste definitions from a farming perspective. Full article
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Article
Food Losses and Wastage along the Wheat Value Chain in Egypt and Their Implications on Food and Energy Security, Natural Resources, and the Environment
Sustainability 2021, 13(18), 10011; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810011 - 07 Sep 2021
Viewed by 1088
Abstract
Pushing yield frontiers of cereals and legumes is becoming increasingly difficult, especially in drylands. This paper argues and provides empirical evidence that food loss and wastage constitute a sizeable proportion of the total wheat supply in Egypt. By following the life cycle of [...] Read more.
Pushing yield frontiers of cereals and legumes is becoming increasingly difficult, especially in drylands. This paper argues and provides empirical evidence that food loss and wastage constitute a sizeable proportion of the total wheat supply in Egypt. By following the life cycle of food and using standard measurement protocols, we estimated the levels of food loss and wastage along the wheat value chain in Egypt and their socioeconomic, biophysical, and environmental implications. About 4.4 million tons (20.62% of total wheat supply from domestic production and imports in 2017/2018) is estimated to be lost or wasted in Egypt which is also associated with the wastage of about 4.79 billion m3 of water, and 74.72 million GJ of energy. This implies that if Egypt manages to eliminate, or considerably reduce, wheat-related losses and wastage, it will save enough food to feed 21 million more people from domestic production and hence reduce wheat imports by 37%, save 1.1 billion USD of much-needed foreign exchange, and reduce emissions of at least 260.84 million kg carbon dioxide-equivalent and 8.5 million kg of methane. Therefore, investment in reducing food loss and wastage can be an effective strategy to complement ongoing efforts to enhance food security through productivity enhancement in Egypt. Full article
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Article
Less Food Wasted? Changes to New Zealanders’ Household Food Waste and Related Behaviours Due to the 2020 COVID-19 Lockdown
Sustainability 2021, 13(18), 10006; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810006 - 07 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1868
Abstract
Food waste is a crisis of our time, yet it remains a data gap in Aotearoa New Zealand’s (NZ’s) environmental reporting. This research contributes to threshold values on NZ’s food waste and seeks to understand the impact of the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown on [...] Read more.
Food waste is a crisis of our time, yet it remains a data gap in Aotearoa New Zealand’s (NZ’s) environmental reporting. This research contributes to threshold values on NZ’s food waste and seeks to understand the impact of the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown on household food waste in NZ. The data presented here form part of the ‘Covid Kai Survey’, an online questionnaire that assessed cooking and food planning behaviours during the 2020 lockdown and retrospectively before lockdown. Of the 3028 respondents, 62.5% threw out food ‘never’/‘rarely’ before lockdown, and this number increased to 79.0% during lockdown. Participants who wasted food less frequently during lockdown were more likely to be older, work less than full-time, and have no children. During lockdown, 30% and 29% of those who ‘frequently’ or ‘sometimes’ struggled to have money for food threw out food ‘sometimes or more’; compared with 20% of those who rarely struggled to have money for food (p < 0.001). We found that lower levels of food waste correlated with higher levels of cooking confidence (p < 0.001), perceived time (p < 0.001), and meal planning behaviours (p < 0.001). Understanding why food waste was generally considerably lower during lockdown may inform future initiatives to reduce food waste, considering socio-economic and demographic disparities. Full article
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Article
Quantifying Food Loss and Waste in Saudi Arabia
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 9444; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13169444 - 23 Aug 2021
Viewed by 850
Abstract
Using the FAO model calculations proposed by Gustavsson et al. (2013) and FAO (2014), food loss and waste (FLW) is measured in Saudi Arabia with a special focus on wheat, rice, dates, poultry, vegetables, fruits, fish, and meat. Results show that the overall [...] Read more.
Using the FAO model calculations proposed by Gustavsson et al. (2013) and FAO (2014), food loss and waste (FLW) is measured in Saudi Arabia with a special focus on wheat, rice, dates, poultry, vegetables, fruits, fish, and meat. Results show that the overall FLW rate is 33.1%, where the food loss rate is 14.2%, and the food waste rate is 18.9%. Acceding to the disaggregated results, we find that FLW rates are distributed as follows: 29.7% for wheat, 33.6% for rice, 21.4%, for dates 29.1% for poultry, 39.5% for vegetables, 39.6% for fruits, 33% for fish, and 31.3% for meat. The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 12.3) target is to reduce the rates of food loss and waste by 50% in 2030, and to help achieve that goal, we employed a nonlinear optimisation simulation model with the objective function of reducing FLW by 50% over the period 2020–2030. Based on the findings achieved, recommendations are made to cover the various aspects of the whole food supply chain (FSC) and to aim at more efficiency and higher levels of productivity. Our findings have significant implications by estimating the FLW baseline indicator and providing the different stakeholders of FSC with the optimal actions to do to reduce FLW rates. Full article
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Article
Sorting Analysis of Household Food Waste—Development of a Methodology Compatible with the Aims of SDG12.3
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8576; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158576 - 31 Jul 2021
Viewed by 932
Abstract
Target 12.3 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls for halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels, by 2030. The Food Waste Index is suggested as a methodology for grasping the situation. This paper focuses on [...] Read more.
Target 12.3 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls for halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels, by 2030. The Food Waste Index is suggested as a methodology for grasping the situation. This paper focuses on the consumer level (household food waste). We argue that in order for generating useful information for devising and implementing effective measures for reducing food waste, it should be measured at Level 3 of the Food Waste Index, based on sorting analysis of generated waste, and making a distinction between avoidable and non-avoidable food waste. Furthermore, a breakdown by subcategories that reflect the flow of food in the household could help identify target behaviours. We have developed a categorisation scheme that is internationally agreeable and adoptable, and (1) generates useful information for policy-making and for tackling with reduction of food waste, (2) makes clear the concept of avoidable food waste, and (3) is practical and does not overcomplicate the work of grasping the situation of food wastage. Results of workshops regarding this scheme suggest that the scheme satisfies the criteria. This scheme has been applied to a few sorting analyses of household food waste in Japan, and their results are compared. Full article
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Article
Battling Food Losses and Waste in Saudi Arabia: Mobilizing Regional Efforts and Blending Indigenous Knowledge to Address Global Food Security Challenges
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8402; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158402 - 28 Jul 2021
Viewed by 1186
Abstract
Food Loss and Waste (FLW) that entail substantial economic, environmental, and social cost is of great concern for a country fulfilling > 80% of food demands through the import of agricultural commodities. The current study mainly aimed at bringing together a wide range [...] Read more.
Food Loss and Waste (FLW) that entail substantial economic, environmental, and social cost is of great concern for a country fulfilling > 80% of food demands through the import of agricultural commodities. The current study mainly aimed at bringing together a wide range of perspectives on FLW by multi-stakeholder engagement in order to enhance cooperation and network building with respect to sharing knowledge and experiences on FLW prevention activities along the entire food supply chain for a country located at the geographic frontier facing stubborn challenges of desertification, water scarcity, and harsh climatic conditions. These challenges are not only being addressed at the national level but have also been made the focus of multilateral activities in 2020 as part of the Saudi G20 Presidency. The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture under the umbrella of the G20 Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists (MACS) hosted a regional workshop on FLW in collaboration with the Thünen Institute, Germany, to raise awareness among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The present paper provides insights into the current status of FLW by revealing that, overall, 33.1% of the total available food in the Kingdom is lost and wasted during the entire food supply chain. Overall, the GCC countries witnessed higher percentages of food waste compared with food losses. Environmental conditions prevailing in the region necessitate the development of adequate and appropriate cold chain storage facilities for balanced distribution through cold storage transportation facilities along the food supply chain to minimize food losses. However, campaigns and activities to raise awareness with a view of changing attitudes towards reducing FLW by the adoption of good practices, promoting the concept of circular economy practices, and the establishment of food banks for surplus food redistribution are important to mitigate FLW in the Kingdom. Full article
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Article
Effects of Date Labels and Freshness Indicators on Food Waste Patterns in the United States and the United Kingdom
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 7897; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13147897 - 15 Jul 2021
Viewed by 972
Abstract
To meet the target for Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, household food waste will need to be reduced by at least 284 million tonnes globally by 2030. American and British households waste a significant amount of food, and date labels are considered to be [...] Read more.
To meet the target for Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, household food waste will need to be reduced by at least 284 million tonnes globally by 2030. American and British households waste a significant amount of food, and date labels are considered to be a contributor to this situation. Using a split-plot experimental design implemented on a survey administered to a convenience sample of UK and US consumers, we aimed to determine how different types of date labels and freshness indicators affect the stated likelihoods of discarding 15 foods. We find that not all date labels would lead to reductions in waste, and that semantics matter. Overall, the likelihood to waste across products was similar between the US and the UK; however, American consumers showed a larger response to the additional information provided by the freshness indicators. Our results shed new light on the ongoing policy debate related to national strategies for simplifying and harmonizing the use of date labels for packaged foods, as well as the potential effects from the use of freshness indicators. Full article
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Article
Moving from Niche to Norm: Lessons from Food Waste Initiatives
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 7667; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13147667 - 09 Jul 2021
Viewed by 889
Abstract
For a transition to a circular economy to take place, behavioural change from people who are part of the transition is a key requirement. However, this change often does not occur by itself. For systemic behavioural change, policy instruments that incentivise behaviour supporting [...] Read more.
For a transition to a circular economy to take place, behavioural change from people who are part of the transition is a key requirement. However, this change often does not occur by itself. For systemic behavioural change, policy instruments that incentivise behaviour supporting circular food systems play a key role. These instruments need to be aligned with the environment in which the behaviour takes place. In this study, we scrutinise a case study with five initiatives on the reduction of food loss and waste (FLW) contributing to a circular food system, to understand how specific, well-targeted combinations of instruments as well as other contextual and personal factors can fuel the transition to a circular economy and the reduction of FLW. All the initiatives are taking place under the umbrella of the Dutch initiative “United against food waste” (STV). We use a behavioural change perspective to assess how initiatives that support circular food systems arise and how they can be further supported. Based on the case-study analysis, we arrive at five common success traits and barriers, and five key needs for upscaling. We conclude that motivated, inspiring frontrunners are of key importance in the initial phase of a transition process. However, once a niche initiative is ready to be scaled up, the enabling environment becomes increasingly important. Full article
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Article
Food Waste Generation in Germany in the Scope of European Legal Requirements for Monitoring and Reporting
Sustainability 2021, 13(12), 6616; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126616 - 10 Jun 2021
Viewed by 933
Abstract
The European Commission and the German government are committed to the United Nations SDG target 12.3 of reducing food waste along production chains and halving it at retail and consumer levels by 2030. European member states are required to monitor national food waste [...] Read more.
The European Commission and the German government are committed to the United Nations SDG target 12.3 of reducing food waste along production chains and halving it at retail and consumer levels by 2030. European member states are required to monitor national food waste levels and report annual progress to the European Commission from 2020 onward. In this regard, the main objective of our study is to provide food waste quantities for Germany by applying methods meeting the legal requirements for monitoring and reporting within Europe-wide harmonized methodology. Our results refer to 2015 and are based on the best available data, using a combination of official statistics, surveys, and literature. We found that approx. 11.9 ± 2.4 million tonnes (144 ± 28 kg/(cap·year)) of food waste were generated in Germany, while the reduction potentials varied throughout the different sectors. Even though the underlying data show uncertainties, the outcome of the study represents a starting point for the upcoming monitoring activities in Germany by uncovering data and knowledge gaps. To meet the political reduction targets, a national food waste strategy was launched in 2019 by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, which is an important step toward cooperation and exchange between actors along the entire food chain, raising awareness, and improving data quality, monitoring, and implementation of prevention measures in practice. Full article
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Review

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Review
Food Loss and Waste Prevention Strategies from Farm to Fork
Sustainability 2021, 13(10), 5443; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13105443 - 13 May 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2031
Abstract
About one-third of the food produced globally for human consumption is lost or wasted each year. This represents a loss of natural resources consumed along the food supply chain that can also have negative impacts on food security. While food loss occurs between [...] Read more.
About one-third of the food produced globally for human consumption is lost or wasted each year. This represents a loss of natural resources consumed along the food supply chain that can also have negative impacts on food security. While food loss occurs between production and distribution and is prevalent in low-income countries, food waste occurs mainly at the consumer level, in the retail and food service sectors, and especially in developed countries. Preventing food losses and waste is therefore a potential strategy for better balance food supply and demand and is essential to improve food security while reducing environmental impact and providing economic benefits to the different actors in the food supply chain. In this context, we specifically provide an overview of case studies and examples of legislation from different countries and actions carried out by the various actors in the food chain and by non-profit organisations to effectively prevent and or reduce food loss and waste. We also outline current limitations and possible research avenues. We conclude that the comparison and the integration of knowledge, and the awareness of where along the food chain, for which foods and in which countries the greatest losses are produced, is essential to decide where and how to target efforts in the most effective way. Full article
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