Experts: International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste | September 29

Published: 28 September 2020

This year represents the first ever observance of the International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste. The COVID-19 pandemic continues generating significant challenges to food security in many countries. These challenges include disruptions in supply chains, quarantine measures, and the closure of much of the hospitality industry and schools. All these measures have resulted in a loss of markets for producers and distributors, making the situation even more challenging. (United Nations)

Here are some experts from McGill University that can provide comment on this issue:

Patrick Cortbaoui, Academic Associate, School of Human Nutrition

Food loss is not only a loss in food quantity, but also a loss of the natural resources required to produce that food. Reducing food loss is vital to increase food production without further compromising the environment and to achieve a sustainable food system for all.”

Patrick Cortbaoui is an Academic Associate at the School of Human Nutrition and the Managing Director of the Margaret A. Gilliam Institute for Global Food Security. His research interest is in the development and validation of applied engineering solutions to reduce post-harvest losses and waste of food commodities thereby increasing food availability without compromising the environment.

patrick.cortbaoui [at] (English)

Daiva Nielsen, Assistant Professor, School of Human Nutrition

Food loss and waste is a substantial issue affecting many countries around the world, and the developed countries where the food supply is abundant. There are many parts of the supply chain where food can be lost or wasted. In Canada, fruits and vegetables comprise one of the most frequently wasted food categories. There are viable solutions to help reduce food loss and waste, particularly through recovery or recycling options where food is donated or manufactured into food products for other purposes (e.g. animal feed). Bringing greater attention to this issue and the solutions is needed to help reduce food loss and waste in Canada.”

Daiva Nielsen is an Assistant Professor in the School of Human Nutrition. She is currently leading a study to compare household food procurement experiences across different regions in Quebec, including those more affected by COVID-19.

daiva.nielsen [at] (English)

Pascal Thériault, Faculty Lecturer, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

The problem of food lost and waste in rich countries is still concerning. Our current food production model is in part responsible for it as is our behaviour as consumers. The COVID crisis did shed a light on aspects of our food production process that often led to overproducing to compensate for lower margins.

Pascal Thériault is a Faculty Lecturer in the Farm Management and Technology Program and the Director of Community Relations at the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. A trained agricultural economist, his expertise includes agri-food marketing, entrepreneurship, farm business management, food waste, international trade and value chain management.

pascal.theriault [at] (English, French)

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