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New project will reduce the loss of seafood you don’t see on your plate
A substantial amount of food loss occurs in agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture before the products are being sold. NORCE researchers will develop a method to quantify the loss of all valuable food in Norwegian fisheries and aquaculture in a new EU project that aims to prevent and minimize food loss.
Think about the bits you don’t eat when you eat fish: the bones, entrails, head, and maybe skin. Think about the fish that escape or die due to disease outbreaks in fish farms. Think about feed that is not eaten by the fish. These bits and bones, fish and feed does not have to be a part of the dire food loss statistics. It can be eaten, used as sources of protein, or even recycled into plastic.
In a new EU project NORCE is to investigate underlying factors for food loss in Norwegian fisheries and aquaculture and develop a method to quantify food loss in the primary production of seafood.
- We will collect available data from fisheries and aquaculture in Norway to see how significant the food loss is and how we can quantify it on boats, landing facilities and in factories. The data will help us to understand the magnitude and drivers behind the food loss, Ursula Landazuri-Tveteraas, a NORCE researcher says.
Landazuri-Tveteraas is the main researcher involved from NORCE’s side in the new EU project called FOLOU. The project aims to develop new methodologies and tools to estimate and reduce food losses at the primary production stage, including agricultural activities, aquaculture, fisheries, and other places.
Billions of tons of food are wasted
Food loss. Taste the term. The flavor isn’t good. Most people want to avoid edible food go to waste in the trash or compost bin. But food waste is not the same as food loss. Food loss happens before fish and other food reaches the supermarket. And food loss is an even bigger problem than food waste.
Around 1/3 of all food produced for human consumption is lost each year on a global level, according to the EU. That corresponds to billions of tons of food, The World Wildlife Foundation estimates. For EU alone food loss from agricultural production to household consumption is 88 million tons a year, corresponding to 173 kg. per person.
A substantial amount of this happens at the primary production stage. Here, food loss occurs before reaching wholesalers and retailers.
- Imagine throwing out 40 percent of fresh tomatoes, 37 percent of fresh peaches, 12 percent of processing potatoes and 55 percent of fresh romaine lettuce, when you are a farmer. This is not unrealistic numbers, Landazuri-Tveteraas states.
Why food loss happens
Food loss at this stage is caused by many factors such as severe weather phenomena, damage incurred during harvest, lack of proper storage infrastructure, lack of markets to valorize cutoffs from fish processing to mention some of the key factors.
- Some food loss is natural, but there is a large potential for improvements with enormous economic, social, and environmental benefits. Not only does food loss cause lack of food for households, but it also creates unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions, economic losses, waste of energy and marine resources. Our aim in the project is to build an understanding of the impact of food loss.
Difficult to monitor
To measure food waste in agriculture, aquaculture, and fisheries is time-consuming and costly. Moreover, there is lack of technology to measure food loss, lack of skills to handle food loss among stakeholders and last, but not least, regulatory challenges within the EU that makes it difficult to monitor and do something about the problem. The objective in the FOLOU project is to contribute to overcome these challenges.
- If we really want to do reduce food loss, we have to have a common understanding of how we measure and estimate food loss, how we monitor and report it on a national and EU level, and assess the impact in the end, Landazuri-Tveteraas says.
The results from the project will be transferred and – hopefully – adopted by key stakeholders such as primary producers, retailers, consumers, policy makers and researchers.
The FOLOU project officially kicked off in January 2023 and runs for 4 years. The funding of 7 million EUR comes from the European Commission’s Horizon Europe program, with a NORCE budget on 500.000 EUR. The project involves 16 multidisciplinary partners from 10 countries and is led by the University of Vic / BETA Tech Center in Catalonia, Spain.