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Food Loss Or Food Waste?

Food Waste Or Food Loss?

Hey all! Ever wondered about the difference between waste loss and food loss?

Well, to be honest, I might have mixed up the two terms from time to time. And some might have made the same little mistake, too. Therefore, why not revealing the crucial difference between those two terms. Promise, you´ll see, it is not complicated to understand 😉

Food Waste Or Food Loss?
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Basically, it all depends on the phase in which food is left behind by our society.

Let’s consider harvest, production, transportation and selling of food as being one whole process:

If food gets lost during harvest and production time, before being shipped to retailers, the event is defined as “food loss”. Hence, the percentage of lost food is measured by the Food Loss Index (FLI) .

If we combine the USA and Canada, the estimated annual amount of lost food across the food supply chain would  be around 139 million tons (UN Environment, 2019, p.10).

When it comes to the definition of “food waste”, it refers to the waste of food through either retailers or  individual consumers. Therefore, the Food Waste Index (FWI) showcase the percentage of food being wasted in the end of the process. Have a look at the visualization below: 

Source: FAO, 2016, Metadata of Indicator 12.3.1 – Global Food Loss Index, p. 2,

Companies Fighting Food Waste

As food is also lost in manufacturing facilities, companies play a major role in accelerating the evolution of the FLI. Since the release of the FAO report in 2011  international companies such as 

started joining the movement of fighting food waste. 

“Fighting food loss and waste along the supply chain with impact and scale is a tremendous challenge that needs partnerships, innovation and cross-sector collaboration.” Veronika Pountcheva, Global Director Corporate Responsibility at METRO AG.

Additionally, delivery-services have the potential to reduce food loss and waste because of their tight controls on portion sizes (Gee et al., 2019). Have a look at our article about”Meal Kit Sustainability – Yah or Nah?”, we will explain you in detail more about it.


Come On People, Let´s Reduce Our Overconsumption!

Naturally, food waste is in relation to our overconsumption. But if we paid more attention to what we buy and the quantity we usually eat, we could definitely reduce our leftovers!

However, people who can afford it, tend to buy too much than not enough food. Which in the end leads us to the result that we contribute negatively to the earth overshoot. If you want to know more about it and get insights on how urgent it is to fight overconsumption, we highly recommend reading the article of covidiary.

FYI: The earth overshoot day in Germany took place this year already on 5th May!


Literature source:
Gee, Isabella M.; Davidson, Todd; Speetles, Brittany L.; Webber, Michael E. (2019). Deliver Me from food waste: Model framework for comparing the energy use of meal-kit delivery and groceries. In: Journal of Cleaner Production, 236.

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