Short opinion on the relevance of food loss and food waste

By: Dr. Deolinda Silva

Food loss and waste represents a huge obstacle when we look for the circularity of food systems. The inefficiency of the supply chain, where significant quantities of food are lost at various stages from production to consumption, results in the loss of valuable resources but also exacerbates environmental impacts, contributing to the emission of greenhouse gases and the loss of biodiversity.

One of the most important areas of study in food industry is the optimization of the use of by-products. Insufficient infrastructures for storage and transportation, a lack of standardized logistical processes and an inadequate technological integration, hinder the flow of by-products. Additionally, the perishable nature of many agri-food products poses a considerable additional challenge. 

It is crucial to focus on research and development to study the different by-products and their applicability in various sectors (e.g.: food, nutrition, feed, cosmetics). A comprehensive global perspective regarding the applicability of by-products is necessary to find solutions that allow for the maintenance of the product life cycle.

Either the by-product is re-introduced in the same industry or in another industry, it is vital that the investments are made over economically viable models.

Local dynamics play a pivotal role in waste optimisation. Establishing regional and national strategies is essential to achieve circularity, with companies needing to be transparent about the by-products and residues obtained from both primary and secondary processing. This transparency and openness to industrial synergies are crucial for delineating and implementing solutions aligned with the specificities of each by-product.

In conclusion, initiatives aimed at enhancing infrastructure, logistics, technology, and collaboration within the agri-food sector can enable more sustainable practices and the adoption of a more circular economy. Achieving a food system that optimises and prioritises resources is essential for capitalising on competitiveness and innovation, as well as ensuring resilience for the future.

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