Globally, food loss and waste prevention efforts at farm and production level are, in many respects, still in their infancy. Many growers around the world are not required to record or report on their post-harvest crop losses — the dearth of data in this area makes it hard to determine exactly how much food never makes it beyond the farm gate.
In 2016, a ReFED report estimated that in the US, some 10.1 million tons of food remains unharvested at farms — representing almost one-fifth of the annual total food waste generated in the country. In Europe, as much as one-third of all food waste occurs during primary production, but classifying what qualifies as waste when dealing with unprocessed crops and livestock is difficult, as this Scottish study authored by PhD student Ciara Beausanga points out.
Part of the problem is that producers tend to consider any food waste and losses to be an intrinsic part of farming, and so don’t necessarily document such data. “It’s not an issue of primary concern for them,” Beausanga says. (…)