No Food Left Behind
Food Loss on America's Farms
An estimated 10 million tons of specialty crops grown on farms each year never gets harvested or makes it past the farm gate—about a third of what’s grown. This loss happens because of labor shortages, cosmetic imperfections, weather events and more, and it makes up about 16% of total US food loss and waste. WWF wants to know more about how this loss differs between various crops and understand the drivers. Through data-driven research and human-centered design, we hope to help overcome some of the barriers and challenges of getting more of this food to people.
We’ve partnered with universities including UC-Davis, UC-Santa Clara, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), trade associations like the Global Cold Chain Alliance—that works on keeping perishable products safe and high quality as they move from farms across the supply chain—and other companies, non-profits, farmers, systems-thinkers, and start-ups to figure out how we can make the most of what we grow. This work led to the No Food Left Behind series.
Several of our research partners have published additional findings that were invaluable to our work. In addition, our research has been featured in two books.
- An Evaluation of On-farm Food Loss Accounting in Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Four California Speciality Crops - UC Davis
- Relational and Logistical Dimensions of Agricultural Food Recovery: Evidence from California Growers and Recovery Organizations - UC Davis (Submitted for publication)
- Field measurement in vegetable crops indicates need for reevaluation of on-farm loss estimates in North America - North Carolina State University
- On-farm food loss in northern and central California: Results of field survey measurements - Santa Clara University
- Tomato Tales: Comparing Loss-Reduction Driver and Opportunities across U.S. Fresh Tomato Supply Chains. - The Economics of Food Loss in the Produce Industry
- Challenges and initiatives in reducing food losses and waste: United States. – Chapter authored by WWF in Preventing food losses and waste to achieve food security and sustainability.
- No Food Left Behind Conference Summary (2018)
Tools for Measurement
Measurement is a priority across WWF’s Food Loss and Waste work—it’s needed to benchmark, compare, and communicate about reducing loss or waste.
WWF worked alongside partners to develop a tool for farmers to measure post-harvest loss in-field so they can more clearly see how much food they grow but, for a variety of reasons, do not harvest. Better understanding of the amount lost—product left in field, culled or not harvested—can provide growers and produce buyers with data on where and why loss is occurring within the boundaries of a farm operation.
The Food Loss metric recently underwent a public comment period and is in the process of being formally adopted as a metric by the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops (SISC).
While most loss or waste of food takes place in restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, or our own kitchens, crops that go unharvested on farms are a piece of the puzzle, too.Continue Reading