Food Loss and Waste: Building an Evidence-Based Business Case for SMEs

  • Date Posted: December 1, 2022
  • Authors: Food Enterprise Solutions (FES)
  • Organizations/Projects: Food Enterprise Solutions

The private sector plays an important role in reducing food loss and waste (FLW) because private companies are involved in all stages of the supply chain that generate food loss and waste. While larger food companies may have significant resources dedicated to making their supply chain more efficient and reducing waste, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have received relatively little attention despite their critical role in the food system. Therefore, it is important to understand the costs and benefits of addressing food loss among SMEs. Unfortunately, very little data exists on this topic. As a first step in developing cost-effective FLW reduction, the USAID Feed the Future Business Drivers for Food Safety (BD4FS) project helps growing food SMEs measure the amount and value of the lost food.

Food loss refers to food that does not reach the consumer but is lost during handling, transport, storage, and processing. Post-farm gate food loss is indicative of inefficiencies in the value chain. Various causes also portend food safety concerns, including inappropriate food handling and packing, inadequate temperature control, poor hygiene, and physical and chemical contamination. Different value chains have varying rates of food loss, with fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy value chains experiencing costly losses. Food loss represents a financial loss to the SMEs and a nutrient loss to society, especially lower-income consumers in most need.