Date of Award

5-2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Natural Resources

Major Professor

Donald G. Hodges

Committee Members

Thomas Gill, Neelam C. Poudyal, Adam S. Wilcox, John M. Zobel

Abstract

Addressing the problem of food losses and wastes has gained much attention in recent years as a solution to the problem of global hunger and food insecurity. However, most studies on the issue occurred in developed nations. This study quantifies the effects of halving lost and wasted food in less developed and developed countries, and estimating the effects of such reduction on food security and resources used to produce it. The study used data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food balance sheets, and resources for 2013 and 2014. The data included 172 countries and 69 food types. All calculations were made at the crop level and aggregated to country and regional levels. The study analyzed seven regions including less developed and developed countries. The results compared lost and wasted food quantities by regions, and converted them into calories to enable the estimation of the effects on food security using a direct calculation and the FAO methodology for estimating food insecurity. The same quantities were used to calculate the amount of land, water and fertilizers used to produce wasted and lost food.The results reveal that developed regions lost and wasted more meat and dairy than less developed regions by a wide margin, while less developed regions lost and wasted more of the remaining categories. In general, less developed regions lost and wasted more food both in quantities and calories, resulting in more lost and wasted water, land and fertilizer than developed regions. The study concluded that reducing food losses and wastes would save more food and resources in less developed than developed regions, and enable less developed regions to feed 87% to more than 100% of food insecure people in this region in 2013, while developed regions could feed their food insecure populations more than three times over using their food savings alone. The study recommends focusing on obtaining better data and reducing food wastes and losses in regions that need it the most, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, South and South East Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean.

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