Indicator 73. Global Food Loss Indicator [or other indicator to be developed to track the share of food lost or wasted in the value chain after harvest]

Rationale and definition:

Food losses through inefficiencies in the food production chain and waste are widespread in all countries. At present, direct data on food losses and waste is sparse and difficult to compare internationally. This is partly explained by the high cost of directly measuring losses and waste for numerous categories of food products and across different stages from harvest to final consumption. In view of the importance of food losses and waste, a basic indicator is needed to track progress over time. FAO is currently developing the Global Food Loss Indicator, which is expected to be available by end of 2015 but remains to be validated. The indicator is based on a model using observed variables that conceivably influence food losses (e.g. road density, weather, pests) to estimate quantitative pre- and post-harvest losses. Data on these variables are available from several sources, including country statistics, FAOSTAT, WFP’s Logistics Capacity index, World Road Statistics, etc. In addition, depending on their priorities and monitoring systems, countries may adopt other indicators to more directly track food losses and/or waste for agricultural product categories of highest priority to their food and nutrition security.1


Opportunities for disaggregation to be reviewed once the indicator has been defined.

Comments and limitations:

Significant efforts will be necessary to create a baseline for food loss and waste. Staple crops that are often combined after harvest for processing will usually provide better data for food loss. Crops grown on a small scale and/or consumed directly by the household farm will be much more difficult to assess, yet they are the crops that tend to experience the highest food losses.

Preliminary assessment of current data availability by Friends of the Chair:


Primary data source:

Administrative data.

Potential lead agency or agencies:


  1. FAO, IFAD and WFP (2014). Food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture in the post-2015 agenda: priority targets and indicators identified by FAO, IFAD and WFP, Working group paper, FAO: Rome.