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Global food waste across the income spectrum: Implications for food prices, production and resource use

Researchers:

  • Emiliano Lopez Barrera
  • Thomas Hertel

Abstract:

There are few examples in the existing literature that address the quantitative linkages between food waste, food security, and environmental sustainability, at global scale. Here we develop a new panel database on household food waste at the national level based on the Energy Balance equation, including adjustments for changes in body weight over time. We use this to characterize the non-linear relationship between per capita income and the share of food availability wasted. By incorporating this relationship into a global partial equilibrium model of the agricultural sector (SIMPLE), we develop future trajectories of household food waste. We find that the emerging economies, particularly China and South Asia, are likely to play a key role in determining global food waste at mid-century. We also present several counterfactual scenarios that shed light on the implications for environmental and food security of limiting future growth in food waste. We find that the global impacts of these alternative pathways are greatly enhanced in the context of a more open international trade regime.

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Citation:

Lopez Barrera, Emiliano., Hertel, Thomas. Global food waste across the income spectrum: Implications for food prices, production and resource use. (2021) doi: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2020.101874