The Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction

Food waste free kitchens: It’s possible!


We all love food and can reduce food waste.

Imagine how everything we eat travels across a food supply chain from food producers to our tables.

Studies show that an astounding 1/3 of all the food produced for human consumption never reaches our plates.

We see food waste in our everyday lives: as thrown out safe and nutritious prepared food, preventable spoil, or other behaviour that wastes food.

Currently, more than 40 percent of food loss and waste in developing countries occur at the post-harvest and processing stages, while in industrialized countries, more than 40 percent of food loss and waste occur at distribution and consumer level.

We can prevent food waste in our daily lives, and hence contribute to a more sustainable food systems.

© FAO / Giulio Napolitano

© FAO / Oliver Bunic

Waste Not — Your Action Plan

1. Shop smart

More than a third of us go shopping without a list. Plan meals, use grocery lists, and avoid impulse buys. This way, you’re less likely to buy things you don’t need and that you’re unlikely to actually consume.

Keep it real! If you know you will be cooking for one person, you won’t need the same amount of food as a family of four. Check what food you have in your cupboards or fridge before you go shopping.

2. Be brave - buy ugly fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are often thrown away because their size, shape or colour don’t necessarily match cosmetic standards. But for the most part, they are perfectly good to be consumed, and their purchase could go a long way to save large quantities of fruits and vegetables from the bin.

3. Keep a healthy fridge

Food needs to be stored between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius for maximum freshness and shelf-life.

4. Practice FIFO. It means First In, First Out

When you plan your meals, try using produce you had bought previously and when you stack up your fridge and cupboards, move older products to the front and place the newly bought ones in the back.

5. Learn to understand the date marks on food packages

The most important thing is to understand the difference between “use by” and “best before” dates. “Use by” indicates a date, by which the food is safe to be eaten; while “best before” means the food is of the expected quality prior to the date, but it is still safe for consumption .Other date marks that can be found on food packages include “Sell by” dates,  which are helpful for stock rotation by manufacturers and retailers.    

6. Love your leftovers

Don’t throw away food because you cooked too much. Using leftovers to make meals is a smart way to ensure you eat everything you buy. Instead of scraping leftovers into the bin, why not use them for tomorrow's ingredients? Some tuna could be added to pasta and made into a pasta bake. A tablespoon of cooked vegetables can be the base for a crock pot meal. If you don’t want to eat leftovers the day after they’re cooked, freeze and save them for later. Always remember to properly handle and store leftovers, including re-heating, to avoid you or your family getting sick. Meal planning could help too!

7. Turn it into garden food

Some food waste is unavoidable, so why not set up a compost bin for fruit and vegetable peelings. In a few months you will end up with rich, valuable compost for your plants. If you have cooked food waste, then a household or community composter will do the trick. Just feed it with your scraps (you can even put fish and meat in it), sprinkle over a layer of special microbes and leave to ferment. The resulting product can be used on houseplants and in the garden.

The Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction (SAVE FOOD) was launched in 2011 and works world-wide with the public and private sector as well as civil society for: 

  • Advocacy and awareness raising on the impact of, and solutions to food loss and waste for increased knowledge and changed behaviour of decision makers, food supply chain actors and consumers.

    In July 2015 Autogrill partnered with FAO on food waste reduction.  

  • Collaboration and coordination of world-wide initiatives on food loss and waste reduction. SAVE FOOD is establishing a global partnership for information, solution sharing, and harmonization of methodologies, strategies and approaches.
  • Policy, strategy and programme development for food loss and waste reduction. This includes field studies on local-national and regional basis and studies to the socio-economic impacts as well as the political and regulatory framework that affects food loss and waste. 
  • Support to investment programmes and projects, implemented by private and public sectors. This includes technical and managerial support for, as well as capacity building (training) of food supply chain actors and organizations, either at the food sub-sector level or policy level.


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Further details

FAO together with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) launched the Technical Platform on the Measurement and Reduction of Food Loss and Waste for information-sharing and coordination of diverse stakeholders, such as international organisations, development banks, non-governmental organisations, and the private sector.

Latest update: Friday, March 4, 2016 - 15:02