Food losses and waste occur in every link of the supply chain from farm to fork. In high-income countries food waste mainly occurs at the end of the chain at the consumer level. In middle and low- income countries losses in the early and middle stages of the chain are the most significant challenge. The causes are mainly due to financial, managerial and technical limitations in harvesting techniques, storage and cooling facilities in difficult climatic conditions, infrastructure and logistics, packaging and marketing systems (FAO, 2011).
Reducing food losses
Reducing food losses in low- and middle-income countries is what the Postharvest Network focusses on. This goal can only be achieved by a multi-stakeholder coalition and needs to be supported – in the Dutch Diamond tradition – by governmental institutions, private sector, knowledge institutes and civil society throughout the entire value chain. The role of the Network is to catalyse and facilitate mechanisms that will result in substantial programs for the reduction of postharvest food losses based on sustainable business cases that add to value creation. Specifically, this can be broken down into creating and facilitating awareness raising, capacity building, technology and innovation transfer and ultimately the redesign of value chains for higher quality and value.
Through supporting precompetitive studies with support of the private sector as a vital preparative phase for larger programs the Postharvest Network supports the realization of these larger programs on the reduction of postharvest food losses in the focus countries of the Postharvest Network. Every initiative will be set up with a focus from the starting point on realizing sustainable business cases which, after having passed the precompetitive phase, present interesting opportunities for investors and private companies. Additionally, the Postharvest Network supports the Ministries of Economic Affairs and Foreign Affairs in delivering policy input for postharvest loss-related questions.