Fact Sheet
Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
September 13, 2013

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned after decades of work, it’s that there is no silver bullet solution. We all must do our part in tackling the blight of lost and wasted food, and breaking the cycle of hunger.”

- Assistant Secretary Jose W. Fernandez, February 19, 2013


By 2050, the world population is expected to reach 9 billion people, and demand for food will increase by 60 percent, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Increasing food production is not enough. Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world goes to waste – a staggering 1.3 billion tons every year. In the fight against global hunger, we must also address postharvest loss.

Postharvest loss is collective food loss all along the food production chain, from harvest and handling, to storage and processing, to packing and transportation. Each year, roughly one-third of the food produced in the world, equivalent to 1.3 billion tons, goes to waste. The causes of postharvest loss are varied and complex, depending upon weather, region, and crops, but common culprits in the developing world include lack of proper storage, lack of transportation, and lack of information on where and how food is lost.


On November 13, 2013, the U.S. Department of State will bring together food security experts, data experts, technologists, and stakeholders for a Postharvest Loss Ideation Jam (brainstorming session) to identify where technological interventions, based on public data, might lead to innovative solutions to address postharvest loss.

Questions to Address

  • What are key postharvest loss challenges that need to be addressed?
  • What data is available to address postharvest loss challenges?
  • What data is collected by government or private industry, but not made publicly available?
  • What data is not available and how could we collect it?
  • How can open data technological interventions address postharvest loss challenges?

For Additional Information

U.S. Department of State
Office of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Textile Trade Affairs