Causes of food waste in international supply chains

Edd Colbert
Feedback; Rockefeller Foundation
Resource type:
Reports and discussion papers

This report looks at supply chain waste based on Feedback's research on export supply chains in Peru, Senegal, South Africa, the UK and a major European port. Its findings highlight the tensions and power imbalance between suppliers and retailers when it comes to costs and risks associated with food waste. The report calls for more research to understand food waste in the supply chain. It also makes recommendations for governments and businesses to tackle food waste. These include:

  1. Third party produce inspectors or surveyors to reduce cancellations and rejections.
  2. Minimum or fixed price guarantees to reduce risk of seasonal price volatility.
  3. Diversification of markets with a wide range of clients and product needs.
  4. Development of secondary markets for foods that do not meet export standards.
  5. Supermarkets should relax their cosmetic specifications within their existing supply chains.
  6. Establish cosmetic specification standards, which are protected by legislation to reduce unnecessary rejection.
  7. Conduct additional research to explore options for local processing facilities. 
  8. Businesses and governments use the food waste hierarchy to maximise the amount of food that is kept within the human food value chain and to reduce waste (page 25 of the report).
  9. Improve measurement and reporting on food waste to increase transparency and accountability. 
This resource presents evidence or data but has not been peer reviewed