When food that is safe and healthy for humans to eat is lost or disposed of, it's called food waste. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), one third of all food is lost or wasted somewhere along the food supply chain. At the same time, the world's population is predicted to reach 9.1 billion by 2050 and this will require an increase of 70% in food. Yet an estimated 8.9% of the world's population already suffer from hunger. We urgently need to address food waste if we are to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ending hunger by 2030 and ensuring everyone has access to enough safe and nutritious food all year round.
Even though they are often seen as one problem, food loss and food waste are two separate issues. Food loss is mainly caused by something going wrong in the food production or supply systems, such as technical limitations, improper storage facilities or cold chain issues. Food waste is when food that is still fit for consumption is disposed of, either by choice or after the food is spoiled. Food waste typically happens at the retail or consumer levels.
Food loss and waste are often caused by products being packaged or stored incorrectly. Improper packaging allows moisture, light and/or microorganisms to reach the food, causing decomposition. Items that need to be kept above or below a certain temperature at all phases of the product lifecycle have a higher risk of spoilage, as these requirements can be difficult to adhere to, especially in longer supply chains.
Food loss and waste represent wastage of the water, land, energy and other natural resources used to produce food. These resources account for approximately 4.4 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually. That means if food loss and waste were a country, it would be the world's third-largest emitter after China and the US.
The waste of resources also affects hunger, poverty, nutrition and economic growth, especially in low-income countries. More food waste leads to less food availability, which can grow the social inequality gap. It can also cause an increase in food production, which grows the environmental impact of food.
There are several solutions to reducing food loss and waste along the food supply chain. They require continued innovation in safe packaging and an integrated approach to the supply chain – because what happens upstream could determine the quality of the product when it gets further down the chain.
Using advanced food processing technologies and protective right-sized packaging solutions can help reduce food waste and improve food availability for people everywhere.
 United Nations, Sustainability Development Goals – Goal 2: Zero Hunger
 World Resources Institute, What's Food Loss and Waste Got to Do with Climate Change? A Lot, Actually.