Food Loss & Waste

Food Loss & Waste in Smallholder Value Chains

Reducing upstream food loss and waste (FLW) in smallholder farms provides an opportunity to improve the bottom line while delivering on critical and often difficult-to-achieve commitments like reduced greenhouse gases, increased resource use efficiency and improved farmer livelihoods.

Starting in 2014, Sustainable Food Lab worked with The Rockefeller Foundation as part of its Yieldwise Initiative. We focused on supporting food and beverage companies that source from smallholder producers to better understand the scope of the opportunity.

Dialogue with global food companies uncovered key questions around smallholder supply chain FLW that guided our work:

  1. When is direct measurement of FLW necessary?
  2. How do we determine which supply chains to invest in?
  3. How can we leverage FLW as an opportunity to deliver on our commercial and sustainability goals?
  4. What does a practical, business-friendly approach to FLW assessment look like?
  5. What lessons are other companies learning about measuring and reducing FLW?

Deep-dive interviews with 40 multinational food companies — the world’s leading input providers, traders, processors and retailers — helped us understand their orientation and questions regarding supply chain FLW and the relative importance of their smallholder sourcing. A synthesis of those interviews can be found in Connecting the Dots; Capturing Value through Food Loss & Waste Reduction in Your Supply Chain.

As part of our partnership with Wageningen University & Research (WUR), and with funding from The Rockefeller Foundation, we engaged two multinational companies in pilots to design and develop practical methodologies to measure and assess the FLW that occurs within their smallholder value chains.

  • In Nigeria a pilot was set up with Olam to understand the magnitude and impact of FLW in their outgrower rice initiative.
  • In Kenya a pilot was set up with Sainsbury and VP Group (formerly Vegpro) to look at FLW in their smallholder French bean value chain.

From these pilots, Sustainable Food Lab and WUR added to our growing body of knowledge about when FLW measurement in smallholder value chains is necessary, when it is practical and how to approach it in a way that will lead to valuable insights. The latter provided insight into which investments could reduce FLW and deliver on important business and sustainability goals.

Business Guide to Measuring Food Loss & Waste

Smallholder supply chains and family farms in the developing world hold exciting potential for reducing FLW and increasing the profitability and sustainability of our food systems. Sustainable Food Lab and WUR developed a Business Guide to Measuring Food Loss & Waste in Smallholder Value Chain to share our learnings with sustainability professionals in national and multinational food and beverage companies.

This guide serves as a valuable tool for sustainability professionals seeking to reduce FLW in smallholder value chains.

The Business Guide was created from a growing body of knowledge around smallholder FLW with funding from The Rockefeller Foundation’s Yieldwise Food Loss Initiative. It is closely aligned with the Food Loss & Waste Standard and Protocol and aims to provide companies with a rigorous yet practical approach to measuring FLW.

To view the Business Guide, click below.

Contact Us

Other Projects

Sustainable Food Lab

Partner With Us

As a partner with Sustainable Food Lab, you will be part of a network of global thought leaders from diverse organizations committed to making impactful changes in the food system.
Learn more

Sustainable Food Lab Newsletter

Get the latest news and updates when you subscribe to the Sustainable Food Lab Newsletter.

Newsletter Form

We promise not to spam, ever.