Food loss and waste prevention
The world population is growing fast and is projected to reach 10 billion by 2050. To be able to feed all these mouths with healthy food now and in the future, a transition to a sustainable food system is necessary. A vital step in this transition is the prevention of food loss and waste. Currently about 1/3 of all food is lost somewhere in the food suplly chain and sidestreams and food waste are often used for the production of low-value products. An increasing number of companies, governments and institutions are therefore working on combatting food loss and waste, both by consumers and in the food supply chain. Wageningen University & Research is working together with them to develop effective strategies, innovations and solutions to prevent loss and waste and for the optimum utilisation of food commodities in our food system.
“Where does most food waste occur in the supply chain?”, “How can I valorisate my waste streams into high-quality products?” and “How can we influence consumers to reduce food waste in their homes?” Companies, governments and organisations that want to reduce food loss and waste are challenged by many complex questions. Wageningen University & Research provides insight into the extent and nature of this challenge and is working on solutions, interventions and actions to combat loss and waste and to achieve the optimum use of food resources. We are working, for example, on the optimum design and organisation of the production and distribution chain, optimum valorisation of side and waste streams and a sustainable change in consumer behaviour. We are also working within national and international consortia in which supply chain partners strengthen one another to jointly combat food loss and waste.
Food security and climate
The prevention of food loss and waste is a vital step in the transition to a sustainable food system where food security and combatting climate change are central. The prevention and reduction of food loss and waste and optimum valorisation of unavoidable side and waste streams is an essential part ofthis. By stimulating and accelerating the transition to a circular economy - in the Netherlands, Europe and globally – we are contributing to a responsible food consumption and production system (SDG 12), the reduction and limiting of greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental effects (water, land use, biodiversity) and food security.
Integrated chain approach
Our applied research and market oriented expertise are focussed on preventing and reducing food loss and waste and on optimising the use of side and waste streams. We advocate for systematic solutions, where we prevent the shifting of waste in the chain, as well as negative side effects (trade-offs). Thanks to a wide range of expertise, science based FLW data, models and protocols and an excellent track record, we are able to support our partners along the entire food supply chain and at all stages of a process. We:
- Create business cases and proof of concepts,
- Provide high-impact strategies and solutions,
- Contribute to the development and validation of innovative technologies,
- Measure and monitor the impact
Our focus here is on the entire food supply chain, where the logistical structure, postharvest technology and product quality play a major role. Knowledge of food processing technology, longer shelf life, IT, AI and smart sensors offer opportunities to optimise the chain, to design it in a sustainable manner and to make it more resilient. This has proven to be particularly relevant in times of crisis such as the global COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, our behavioural science expertise is also relevant for bringing about a sustainable change in consumer behaviour.
As an authority on food loss and waste prevention, Wageningen University & Research plays a leading role in putting this subject on the political and public agenda. We are convinced that there are abundant opportunities for the Netherlands, for Europe and globally to prevent and reduce food loss and waste. A reduction of 50% is feasible in the long term, provided that governments, manufacturers, processors, retailers, restaurants & caterers and the consumer join forces – on a local, regional, national and international level.
Together against food waste
As coordinator of the EU research projects REFRESH and FUSIONS, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has put the theme of food waste on the map in Europe. Based on the Taskforce Circular Economy in Food that resulted from this and the following Stichting Samen tegen Voedselverspilling (Foundation Together against Food Waste), we are encouraging more and more companies to take action, on the road towards reduced food loss and waste and more efficient use of valuable food resources.
Working on solutions
Within this research program, we are working on the following solutions.