Thesis subject

MSc thesis topic: Earth Observation based food waste monitoring

Hunger is one of the pressing issues globally, which are possibly accelerated by the corona virus pandemic and as well as ongoing geopolitical instabilities.
Another factor aggravating hunger is the amount of food thrown away in the storing, transportation, processing and distribution and wasted by consumers. Next to food that could have been used to alleviate hunger, estimates suggest that 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food that is not consumed (UNEP 2021). Therefore, reducing food waste can be beneficial for both people and the planet. However, the true scale of food waste and its impacts have not been well understood until now.

Earth Observation (EO) data has an important role in improving global food security. It provides spatially and temporally detailed data that can be used for example to identify different crop types, estimate their productivity and predict crop yields. To monitor food waste, EO-derived yield estimates can be used as a base from which “food losses” are subtracted when the crop moves from the field through the supply chain. Another EO approach can relate to quantification of food wasted after harvesting with use of very high resolution UAV data.

Despite these potentials, the opportunities provided by EO on monitoring and quantifying food waste is under-exploited. Hence, a systematic research is required to shed a light into the opportunities that EO can bring in monitoring food waste either at an operational or at development stage

. While the former is useful for national scale estimation of food waste towards contributing to sustainable food production, the latter is essential to for improving EO methodologies for better quality food waste estimations.


  • Review EO data products and methods from literature that can be used for food waste monitoring.
  • Identify operational and in development stages of EO data and methodology.
  • Demonstrate how operational EO data can be used to estimate food waste.


  • UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2021
  • Karthikeyan, L., Chawla, I., & Mishra, A.K. (2020). A review of remote sensing applications in agriculture for food security: Crop growth and yield, irrigation, and crop losses. Journal of Hydrology, 586, 124905


  • Advanced Earth Observation course

Theme(s): Integrated Land Monitoring