No food left behind. Part 1: underutilized produce ripe for alternative markets.

Author(s) : World Wildlife Fund

Type of monograph: Report


The business of global food production has the largest environmental impact of any human activity. Food production accounts for an estimated 70% of biodiversity loss, 70% of freshwater use, 25-35% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), and 50% of soil erosion. We produce more than enough food to feed all people currently on the planet, but it is estimated that we waste one third of all calories produced globally. North America wastes more food than any other region, while in the United States more than 41 million people (including 13 million children) are food insecure. In the US, one estimate indicates that 16% of food waste occurs at the farm level, about 19 million tons annually; however, this number is based on limited field studies, and estimates vary considerably by region as well as quantification scope and method. Increasing harvesting for commercial channels can create additional revenue along the supply chain, by creating value-added products from produce that can then be directed to alternative markets. Rescuing more edible, wholesome produce that is, for one reason or another initially unmarketable, represents an opportunity to support Americans living in food insecure households. Given the environmental impacts of food production, reducing food loss and waste is a critical strategy to fulfill this mission. We need to freeze the footprint of food and improve the resource use efficiency of our global food system. Currently, commodity crops make up most of the land under production in the US, with 215,754,000 acres under cultivation for crops such as corn, wheat, and soy. In contrast, specialty crops (i.e., vegetables, fruits, and tree nuts), which are the focus of this study, make up approximately 7,078,160 acres.13 As we contemplate the impact that reducing specialty crop losses can have on preserving wildlife habitat, it is important to both understand how the current specialty crop footprint compares to commodity crops and how a move towards a diet that consumes more produce will shift these dynamics. This report, the first in a series on the issues surrounding food loss and waste of specialty crops at the farm level, provides an overview of our loss and waste research findings from the field and outlines potential paths forward for how to address the challenges with our current food system. In subsequent papers, WWF will look closely at these challenges and provide results from future research that test the validity of our proposed hypotheses.

Available documents

Format PDF

Pages: 13




  • Original title: No food left behind. Part 1: underutilized produce ripe for alternative markets.
  • Record ID : 30025268
  • Languages: English
  • Subject: General information
  • Publication: Wwf - United states/United states
  • Publication date: 2018/08