Food security is the basis for our way of life. The domestication of crops and livestock resulted in the transition from the nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle to the creation of sedentary farming communities. The availability of an ample food supply has allowed the human race the freedom to develop a form of division of labour, where only a small section of the community would be responsible for food production. This in turn provided the rest of the community with the freedom to pursue and specialise in the practice of non-agricultural endeavours. These include the various artistic, scientific and creative disciplines that encompass human civilisation. Currently, a total of 1.8 billion tons of food is either lost or wasted each year (Gustavsson et al., 2011). This amounts to as much as one third of all food produced. Food loss represents a waste of land, water, energy, financial, agrichemical and mechanical inputs. As agricultural crop production is energy intensive, with the bulk of our electricity and transport needs being dependent on fossil fuels, this represents an unnecessary release of CO2 emissions (Gustavsson et al., 2011). In addition, with the global population set to rise by 33 % between now and 2050 , food loss presents a clear and present threat to global food security.
Figure 1 shows the stages at which food is lost between the farm and the consumer. Postharvest loss represents over 60 % of all food loss in developing countries.
Figure 2 shows a breakdown of postharvest loss into three stages; handling and storage, processing and packaging, as well as marketing and distribution. (Graphs adapted Aulakh and Regmi, 2012 and Gustavsson et al., 2011).
Read more about how Postharvest Losses of Cabbages from Retail to Consumer impacts Socio-Economic and Environmental Factors