Strategies to reduce losses and waste of fruits and vegetables in the last stages of the agrifood-chain
advances and challenges
Keywords:retail, consumer, food waste, fruits and vegetables
The environmental, economic and social consequences associated to food waste have raised great concern worldwide. Existing studies place fruits and vegetables as the second most wasted food group, having its highest share at postharvest stages. In this context, the present work discusses the determinants of fruit and vegetable waste in the final stages of the food supply chain, retail and consumption, and strategies and interventions that have been effective to reduce this waste. Even though determinants of fruit and vegetable losses and waste are diverse, existing strict quality standards play a key role in the final stages of the food supply chain. Several strategies have been implemented internationally in an effort to reduce losses and waste of fruits and vegetables. However, limited evidence as to which interventions are effective is available. Improving logistics and infrastructure, communication campaigns, price reduction, redistribution and recovery are among the strategies that have achieved food waste reduction to some extent. Particularly, communication campaigns including messages that positively affect consumer perception of quality of suboptimal fruits and vegetables or messages addressing sustainability have shown a positive impact on consumers’ behavior. Lowering the price of suboptimal food items has encouraged purchase but has also raised concerns on quality. Therefore, combining price reduction with communication strategies could help achieve the desired impact effectively. In addition, a variety of initiatives that aim at fruit and vegetables redistribution and recovery have given rise to social projects that have shown a positive impact reducing food waste while tackling food insecurity. From the evidence gathered, the present work discusses recommendations for the implementation of the abovementioned strategies within the local context.
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