3. Hawken, Paul, “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming”
One in three people in the labor force depend on agriculture and food production for their primary livelihood. However, a third of the food they produce does not make it to market due to losses in the supply chain. Those losses surpass the amount of food wasted in retail, food services, and households combined.
In sub-Saharan Africa, about 50% of the fruits and vegetables produced at farms never make it to market for consumption. In Kenya alone, this results in more than $594M of post-harvest losses each year, directly diminishing farmers' incomes. They also lead to greater food insecurity; 32% of Kenyans face food insecurity or poor nutrition, and 25% of children under 5 years are stunted due to chronic malnutrition. Similarly, in Latin America, even though there are nearly 50M people who suffer from hunger, 15% of food is wasted each year, with losses occurring throughout the supply chain. Likewise, in Asia, up to 20% of food is lost or wasted in spite of the hundreds of millions of people living in hunger in the region.
That so much food is lost or wasted is even more troubling, knowing that over 828 million people (more than 10% of the population) were affected by hunger in 2021. Hundreds of millions of people would materially benefit from interventions to decrease food loss and waste.
The environment is also affected by food loss, which contributes roughly 10% of total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, primarily during decomposition, which generates methane, a GHG that is 25 times more potent than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere. If food waste were a country, it would rank third in terms of GHG emissions, just behind the United States and China.
In all, food waste has a myriad of negative impacts: people who need food are not getting it, the food that is not getting consumed is heating up the planet, and the livelihoods of climate vulnerable farmers are impacted by both the lost income, as well as the wasted effort and inputs.
Technological innovations are enabling these solutions to scale, better tracking, greater reach, and cost-effective infrastructure.