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By knowing where and how much food is being lost and wasted, one can prioritize actions to tackle the hotspots. Prioritizing what to do is important given constraints faced in terms of political attention, financial resources, and time.
Exactly what needs to be done will vary by country and stage of development. We outline a number of suggested actions in the figure below. In developing countries, most food loss occurs during production and storage. Thus investing in better infrastructure to improve storage, processing, and transportation will be critical. In developed countries as well as in rapidly growing urban areas just about everywhere, most food waste occurs at the retail and consumer levels. Thus steps to facilitate food donations, improve food date labeling, and better educate consumers will be vital.
An oft-quoted Chinese proverb states “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The journey to reduce food loss and waste has yet to begin for most countries and companies. Let 2016 be the year we all take that first step.