Food loss and waste measurement systems, FLW. Survey and network

food loss and waste

Sector experts are invited to participate in an interview survey and join a network, to contribute to the development of effective systems for measuring and monitoring ‘food loss and waste’ (FLW) as part of the #wasteless research project, in Horizon Europe. (1)

1) Wasteless, the EU research project

wasteless – ‘Waste Quantification Solutions to Limit Environmental Stress’ – is a research project aimed at developing tools for measuring food losses and waste, to support public and private initiatives for their analysis and reduction ‘from farm to fork’. (2) Below is a summary of the main activities.

1.1) Blockchain-based circular economy dataset for the agri-food system

Wiise benefits is developing a ‘blockchain’ platform available to all operators in the agri-food supply chains, ‘from farm to fork’, to record the material flows of their plants:

– incoming (eg raw materials, semi-finished products, food and feed including pet food),

– outgoing, with specification of the different destinations of the ‘output’ (i.e. products and waste destined for upcycling, and reuse, recycling, energy valorisation, waste).

The processing of this data by the system can allow:

– to operators (from primary agricultural production to first and second industrial transformation, retail and ‘food service’), the possibility of evaluating, improving and sharing (on an optional basis) their circular economy ‘performance’ based on criteria harmonized,

– to research institutes and bodies, the availability of detailed data on circular economy performances in the various supply chains and their sectors in the various territories, also thanks to their geolocation. In view of the effective adoption of the ‘material flow analysis’ (MFA) model developed by the Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission. (3)

1.2) Decision Support Toolbox

The operators they will also be able to interact with a ‘Decision Support Toolbox’ which will allow them to:

– share measurement tools and methods, but above all concrete initiatives and experiences for the prevention or reduction of food loss and waste (FLW), as well as the valorisation of waste,

– consult the database to identify the ‘best practices’ recorded by operators in the same and/or neighboring sector, in the various countries and geographical areas. And thus evaluate the economic, social and environmental aspects.

2) FLW measurement, current scenario

The decision (EU) 2019/1597 attributes responsibility for FLW measurements to Member States, following specific criteria that define the phases of the ‘supply chain’, the foods subjected to mandatory or voluntary measurement and those excluded (i.e. water. See notes 4,5 ).

Eurostat recently published the data relating to 2021, collected by the national statistical institutes, as well as the related averages. In total, in the European Union, approx

– 58,4 million tons of food waste, which includes edible and non-edible parts, (6)

– 131 kilograms (kg) of food waste per capita, on average. (7)

The reliability of this data it is also poor, considering that some Member States have not even provided data for the year 2021. And above all – as highlighted by some scientific reviews (Chauhan C. et al., 2021; Hoehn D. et al., 2023. See notes 8,9) – there is a lack of a standard method for measuring and monitoring ‘Food Loss and Waste’ (FLW).

survey on measurement of food loss and waste
Fig. 1 – Food waste expressed in kg per capita for individual Member States (source: Eurostat)

3) Experts wanted

A survey aimed at experts in FLW measurement – not only waste sector professionals, researchers, competent authorities, ‘policy makers’, but also trade associations, ‘auditors’, food supply chain operators – is now underway thanks to SDU researchers ( University of Southern Denmark), partner of the Wasteless research consortium. Interested parties can participate in the survey via the link in note (10), by November 30, 2023.

The Community of Practice (CoP) of Wasteless has in turn the objective of promoting synergies between people interested in the topic ‘Food Loss and Waste’. (11) Information through the dedicated blog, training, networking. Professionals and researchers can also join the EU Sustainable Food System Innovation Platform (SFS), a successful initiative born from the cooperation between several Horizon research projects, including in the field of FLW. (12)


Dario Dongo and Andrea Adelmo Della Penna

On the cover, ‘The production of food waste generated in the EU in 2021, broken down by economic sectors’ (Eurostat, 2021 data)


(1) WASTELESS. Expert Consultation – Building The Food Loss And Waste Measurement Framework.

(2) Dario Dongo, Andrea Adelmo Della Penna. Wasteless, EU research project on circular economy and blockchain. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 5.9.22

(3) De Laurentiis V. et al. (2023) Building a balancing system for food waste accounting at national level – Model updates version 2.0. Publications Office of the European Union JRC124446

(4) Commission Delegated Decision (EU) 2019/1597 of 3 May 2019 supplementing Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards a common methodology and minimum quality requirements for the uniform measurement of food waste levels

(5) Marta Strinati. EU waste framework directive’ and food waste, BEUC’s proposals. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 31.10.23

(6) Food waste means any food that under these conditions becomes waste: it has entered the food chain, has then been removed or discarded from the food chain or, in the final consumption phase, is finally destined to be transformed as waste

(7) Eurostat. Food waste and food waste prevention by NACE Rev. 2 activity – tonnes of fresh mass. 28.9.23

(8) Chauhan C. et al. (2021). Food loss and waste in food supply chains. A systematic literature review and framework development approach. Journal of Cleaner Production 295:126438

(9) Hoehn D. et al. (2023) A critical review on food loss and waste quantification approaches: Is there a need to develop alternatives beyond the currently widespread pathways? Resources, Conservation & Recycling 188:106671

(10) Link to access the survey: reference contacts are Zhuang Qian (email and Wu Chen (email

(11) WASTELESS Community of Practice

(12) Dario Dongo, Andrea Adelmo Della Penna. EU Sustainable Food System Innovation Platform. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 7.7.23

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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Graduated in Food Technologies and Biotechnologies, qualified food technologist, he follows the research and development area. With particular regard to European research projects (in Horizon 2020, PRIMA) where the FARE division of WIISE Srl, a benefit company, participates.