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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruptions of social interactions, affecting both the supply and demand for food. These disruptions to jobs, income and food supply magnified and exacerbated existing inequalities. While the emerging urban middle class suffered greater income losses, the poor and vulnerable in rural and urban areas experienced the worst livelihood impacts. Many social programs, including cash transfers, nutrition and education were interrupted, delayed, or halted, setting back decades of process in reducing poverty, hunger, malnutrition and illiteracy.
Reducing food loss along the entire value chain can play an important role in improving global and local food security. However, accurate, standardized definitions and measurements of food loss have proven elusive. Without being able to properly understand the scope of the problem, policymakers and researchers will find it difficult to enact effective policies to address it. Two recent studies from researchers at IFPRI, KU Leuven, and UN FAO aim to improve the way food loss are studied and measured in order to provide a clearer policy roadmap.
Food loss is important
The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated policy responses have had wide-ranging impacts across the globe in terms of health, food security, incomes and livelihoods, and access to critical services. According to the 2021 Global Food Policy Report (GFPR), released this week by IFPRI, COVID-19’s effects have moved the world further away from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
The FAO Food Price Index continued to rise in March for the tenth consecutive month. The Index increased 2.1 percent from February, bringing it to its highest value seen since June 2014. The rise was led by increased prices for vegetable oils, meat, and dairy. Cereal prices declined in March.
The number of undernourished people around the world rose from 653 million in 2015 to 690 million in 2019. According to a recent policy brief produced for the Food Systems Summit, more than 840 million people could suffer from by 2030, putting Sustainable Development Goal 2 – the eradication of hunger and malnutrition by 2030 – in serious jeopardy.