Options for action to reduce food losses at the interface between production and retail - on the example of fruit and vegetables
The United Nations, the EU and Germany are pursuing the goal of being less wasteful with food. But what options are available to achieve this goal?
A quarter of the water used in agriculture worldwide, a land area as large as China and 4.4 gigatons of CO2 equivalents: This is how the FAO and the Food Loss and Waste Protocol quantify the annual resource footprint that results solely from the production of all disposed and lost food.
In this doctoral project, we investigate the causes of food losses from agricultural production up to retail and options for reducing these, using the example of fruit and vegetables. Although the majority of all food loss and waste in Germany can be traced back to private households, a considerable proportion of 30 percent is attributable to the value chain from primary production up to retail. The uncertain amount of pre-harvest losses is not even quantified.
Research to date suggests that the interactions between the stages and actors of the value chain influence the occurrence of food losses. These inter-stage causes and mechanisms are examined in more detail in this research project.
Scientists, political decision-makers, primary producers, retailing companies
We examine three sub-aspects that build on one another:
Interviews with experts and questionnaire studies form the basis of the research project. In qualitative interviews with producers, producer organizations and the food retail sector, we gain a deep insight into the interface and the causes of food losses between production and retail. Subsequent quantitative questionnaires in the fruit and vegetable supply chains are intended to provide information about the quantities lost and their causes. We work closely with a food retail company and with the dialogue forums.
The evaluation of the interviews with the experts showed that power imbalances between production and retail emerge in the form of
Hence, the shifting of economic risks into the upstream value chain is a trigger for food losses in production.
10.2019 - 9.2023
Project status: ongoing