Significant amounts of food are lost or wasted every day, in every country, and at every stage in the supply chain, from the farm to household. According to a 2011 estimate by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about one-third of food produced is lost or wasted globally. In the United States, food loss and waste account for approximately 31 percent of food supply at the retail and consumer level each year—a loss of about 133 billion pounds with a total cost of $162 billion. Costs aside, food loss has significant impacts on food security, environmental conservation, and climate change.
On October 17, 2018, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Science and Technology for Sustainability program organized a public workshop focused on addressing the impacts of reducing food loss and waste on farmers, food prices, food availability, and the environment. Participants from government, the private sector, academia, and non-governmental organizations examined key challenges that arise in reducing food loss and waste throughout the supply chain and discussed potential ways to address these challenges. This Proceedings of a Workshop synthesizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.