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Better Data On Global Food Waste Needed

“Food waste is an issue of global significance, affecting food security and environmental sustainability, yet basic information is lacking on the types and quantities wasted,” Julian Parfitt, principal resource analyst at the Centre for Remanufacturing and Reuse, writes in The Guardian’s “Global Development Professionals Network” blog. “Global food waste estimates are mainly based on old statistics recycled into ‘new’ estimates,” with “[s]ome of these estimates dat[ing] back decades,” he states. “The uncertainty relates to the cost and level of difficulty of conducting primary fieldwork, particularly in relation to post-harvest losses in developing economies,” he writes, adding, “There are also significant gaps in understanding food wasted at the consumer level in different parts of the world.” He continues, “Better measurement and monitoring through a global benchmarking network is urgently needed,” and “[p]riority should be given to developing countries and those undergoing rapid dietary shifts.” Parfitt concludes, “Producing more food only for it to be wasted a few days later through lack of investment in post-harvest losses is not part of the ‘ecological intensification’ model posited by [the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)]. So let’s wake up before it is too late and look at the global food waste issue with greater urgency” (10/28).