Postharvest Loss

By the year 2050, the world population is expected to reach 9 billion people, and demand for food will increase by 60 percent, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Increasing food production is not enough. Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world goes to waste – a staggering 1.3 billion tons every year. In the fight against global hunger, we must also address postharvest loss.

Postharvest loss is collective food loss all along the food production chain, from harvest and handling, to storage and processing, to packing and transportation. The causes of postharvest loss are varied and complex, depending upon weather, region, and crops, but common culprits in the developing world include lack of proper storage, lack of transportation, and lack of information on where and how food is lost.


In February, 2013, the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs along with the Office of Global Food Security and the Foreign Service Institute hosted the event, “Food Security and Minimizing Postharvest Loss.” Government officials, representatives from the private sector, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and foreign diplomatic corps will discuss the issue of postharvest loss, focusing on Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.

In November, 2013, the Office of Agriculture, Biotechnology, and Textile Trade Affairs hosted an Ideation Jam (brainstorming session) on postharvest loss, bringing together food security experts, data experts, technologists, and stakeholders to discuss where technological interventions based on open data might lead to innovative solutions to address food security challenges.


Robert D. Hormats, Former Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment
Jose W. Fernandez, Former Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs


Edward Kaska, Director, Agriculture, Biotechnology, and Textile Trade Affairs

Additional Resources:

How to Manage Post-Harvest Loss (The Guardian)
World Bank Report: Stemming Post-Harvest Waste Crucial to African Food Security
Feed the Future: Combating Postharvest Loss in the Fight Against Global Hunger
Partner Highlights – Feed the Future