City Research Online

Food chain inefficiency (FCI) : accounting conversion efficiencies across entire food supply chains to re-define food loss and waste

Horton, P., Bruce, R., Reynolds, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-1073-7394 & Milligan, G. (2019). Food chain inefficiency (FCI) : accounting conversion efficiencies across entire food supply chains to re-define food loss and waste. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 3(79), article number 79. doi: 10.3389/fsufs.2019.00079


Achieving global food security requires a new approach that integrates not only all aspects of the growing, harvesting and processing of food (necessary to ensure sufficient affordable and sustainable production to alleviate hunger) but also the complexities associated with food consumption including deterring unhealthy overconsumption. Inefficiencies occur at various points along the agri-food supply chain but at present they are inadequately conceptualized via separate accounts of food loss, food waste, supply chain management, and public health. Here we re-define food loss and waste through the concept of conversion efficiency applied to the entire system, an approach up to now only applied to the primary processes of crop productivity. Nine conversion efficiencies are defined: sunlight capture efficiency; photosynthesis use efficiency; biomass allocation efficiency; harvesting efficiency; storage and distribution efficiency; processing efficiency; retailing efficiency; consumption efficiency; and dietary efficiency. Using the production and consumption of bread in the UK as an example, we demonstrate how efficiencies may be estimated and thus where the main inefficiencies lie, so indicating where the most significant improvements could be made. We suggest that our approach, which introduces the term Food Chain Inefficiency (FCI) to re-define food loss and waste, provides a rational and effective way to devise the practical interventions and policies needed to deliver a sustainable agri-food system.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Publisher Keywords: food supply chain; food security; food loss and waste; food consumption; agrifood systems; agriculture
Subjects: H Social Sciences
S Agriculture
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management > Food Policy
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of fsufs-03-00079.pdf]
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (593kB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login