Each year, a substantial amount of food is lost or wasted all along the food value chain, from primary production to final consumption. Food losses and waste have negative impacts on the society, contributing to food insecurity and hindering nutrition, depleting the environment, generating avoidable GHG emissions and creating pressure on land and water, including through habitat degradation and biodiversity loss. All these factors are also responsible for considerable economic losses. Preventing and reducing the amount of food intended for human consumption that is eventually lost or wasted is a complex challenge, but one that deserves investing in. The recent adoption of the EU Commission Decision (EU) 2019/1597 set a common method and minimum quality requirements for the uniform measurement of levels of food waste at the national level. However, this common EU method is currently excluding the measurement and quantification of food losses at the primary production stage because this is difficult, time-consuming, and costly. Moreover, there is an insufficient knowledge and understanding of the root causes behind these losses as well as a clear lack of harmonisation of existing national and non-institutional protocols and definitions.
Therefore, there is an urgent need of having a clear measure-based accounting methodology for food losses. Primary food production encompasses agricultural activities, aquaculture, fisheries and similar processes resulting in raw food generation. Food losses (FL) at this stage occur at field level and as post-harvest (i.e., food handling and storage). The project will address both components of FL at this primary production stage.
FOLOU will contribute to unlock the systemic transition of EU food systems towards sustainable, resilient, healthy and inclusive ones by supporting a solid knowledge and evidence-based prevention and reduction of food losses at the primary production stage, thus transforming the current challenges related to food losses at the primary production stage into valuable opportunities for all those relevant stakeholders along the food chain