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        Jessie Damiane | Senior Consultant Jun 24, 2024

Food waste in agri-food businesses

The degradation of the environment and climate change is attributed to the current economic model grounded on the take-make-dispose prototype with Food loss constituting the third biggest impact on the environment.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s statistics, One-third of all food produced for human consumption goes to waste. This equates to about 1.3 billion tons of food, valued at nearly 1 trillion $.

Wastage can occur at various levels of the food chain: 61% by households, 26% by food service entities and industries, and 13% by retail.

Recent figures indicate that 1.05 million people in Lebanon, 19 percent of the population, are grappling with acute food insecurity.

In compliance with Sustainable Development Goal 12.3: “By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses” efforts should be made to reduce and prevent food wastage in Lebanon

Impact of Food Wastage

On the environmental level, food waste contributes to climate change and global warming through the emission of methane gas (CH4), 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) by the disposal of waste in landfills.

On the economical level, the annual global economic loss due to food production that is never consumed is estimated to be between 750 billion and 1 trillion dollars (FOA, 2013).

 On the social level, food waste has a direct impact on global hunger since lost food is withdrawn from the global market, reducing the amount of food accessible to the world’s population.

Causes of Food Wastage

The causes of food wastage in agro-food businesses are multifaceted. Overproduction and excessive stock often result from a misalignment between supply and demand, compounded by inadequate demand forecasting. Operational inefficiencies in handling, storage, and transportation lead to significant food spoilage. Additionally, non-conformance to retail specifications, such as size and appearance standards, results in the discarding of otherwise edible food.

Food Wastage Prevention Strategies

Preventing food wastage requires a holistic approach that integrates advanced stock management, optimal storage conditions, and specialized packaging solutions. By implementing systems to manage inventory effectively and using accurate demand forecasting, businesses can better align production with market needs. Ensuring optimal storage conditions and improving logistics help reduce transit times and minimize spoilage.

Food Wastage Valorization

According to the EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy, food wastage valorization involves several key strategies. Donating surplus food to charities and food banks ensures that edible food reaches those in need rather than going to waste. Repurposing food waste as livestock feed provides an alternative use that maintains nutritional value. Extracting valuable components from food waste, such as pectin from fruit peels or bioactive compounds from citrus waste, adds economic value. Anaerobic digestion and fermentation processes convert food waste into biogas and biofuels, turning waste into valuable energy resources. Composting organic waste enriches soil, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, and improves water retention.

Policies and Regulations

In Lebanon, several laws and decrees focus on managing food and solid waste, including Law 80/2018 on Integrated Solid Waste Management and Decree 5605/2019 on sorting at source. Internationally, the EU Waste Framework Directive and the U.S. EPA Food Recovery Program set measures to prevent waste and encourage reuse and recycling. The UNEP and FAO’s Think.Eat.Save campaign further highlights global efforts to reduce food waste and losses.


The World Food Program’s poignant words, “In a world where one in nine people goes to bed hungry each night, we cannot afford to simply discard food,” set the stage for this critical investigation into the magnitude of food waste in Lebanese agro-food industries and ways to reduce it. Q Pulse Consulting has developed an approach to waste management in agro-food businesses.

For those interested in detailed strategies and implementation plans, please contact us at [email protected] We look forward to helping you achieve your sustainability goals.



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