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The billions of dollars lost within the value chain

Enough food is produced worldwide to feed the entire population, yet nearly a billion people suffer from chronic hunger. This problem has different origins depending on the geographical area to which we refer; however, huge amounts of food are wasted within the value chain. According to an estimate by the FAO, a third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted each year, worth 1.2 trillion dollars. On the other hand, nearly 14% of the world’s food is lost from post-harvest to the retail level. Furthermore, the proportion of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by food produced but never eaten is estimated at 8% and continues to grow.


Global food waste per year equals four hundred times the value of Mexican avocado exports. Talking about trillions is not easy; just a few can assimilate the immensity of these numbers.


Food loss and waste refer to food that is never harvested, thrown away before it reaches distribution centers, or removed from supermarket shelves before anyone can buy it. The food lost due to disrupted supply chains, overproduction, and improper storage remains largely invisible. Therefore, we are not facing a food crisis; we are witnessing a failure of efficient distribution worldwide.


In recent decades, the increase in demand for exotic and fresh products has caused supply chains to become extended and complex. International events such as pandemics, wars, and political conflicts stress transportation channels, further deepening the stability of food within the supply chain. We cannot resolve all global political events; we, participants in the chain value, can contribute to the main challenges within our control area.


As an action proposal for companies and institutions involved in the food industry. The United Nations published The Code of Good Practices which supports sustainability goals for food loss and waste reduction: “By 2030, halve global per capita food waste at the retail and consumer levels reduce food losses throughout production supply chains, including post-harvest losses.” The Working Group on Agricultural Quality Standards of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) prepared the Code. For more than 50 years, UNECE standards have facilitated international trade in agricultural products. The Code complemented the standards and intended to help maintain quality throughout supply chains. It also aims to strengthen the work to reduce food waste and associated costs that many businesses are already doing.


Below, we share the actions suggested by UNESCO for the reduction of food waste corresponding to producers, traders, and retailers:



The responsibility of the client or seller within the international market: Incoterms®

Mexico is the seventh agricultural exporter in the world and the number one exporter of avocados. Based on this scenario, actors involved must have clarity on the international rules to agree on the limits of the responsibility of the product in its shipment, that is, to be familiar with the Incoterms®.


  • http://12.000.scripts.mit.edu/mission2014/problems/inadequate-food-distribution-systems
  • http://www.cec.org/flwm/sector/distribution-and-wholesale/
  • https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsufs.2019.00079/full
  • https://supplychainbeyond.com/5-big-problems-in-the-food-supply-chain/
  • https://unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trade/agr/meetings/wp.07/2019/Code_Nov_clean.pdf
  • https://unece.org/circular-economy/news/food-lost-and-wasted-invisible-face-our-food-chain-and-opportunity-change
  • https://unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trade/agr/FoodLossChalenge/FoodLossWaste_QuantificationMethodology.pdf

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