Over the past decades, there have been dramatic changes in agricultural practices, food processing industry and consumption patterns, resulting in an increased importance of the food industry in the economic balance of the EU and in a multiplication of the channels that carry food products “from farms to fork”.

In parallel with these changes, the concerns over the sustainability of these food systems have increased together with the awareness about the scarcity of natural resources and the emergency of climate change. Current food systems face great challenges related to their level of sustainability, especially concerning the scarcity of environmental resources to feed the growing world population, the impact of food production on climate change and the issues of food security, malnutrition and inequality in food availability.

Efforts to tackle food waste are being and must be done at each stage of the food supply chain. A food waste hierarchy has been defined to prioritise waste management strategies. It ranks the preferred strategies. Two top levels of the hierarchy create the most benefits for the environment, society and the economy. They are prevention actions and initiatives for surplus food reusing (firstly for human consumption and then for animal feeding). The hierarchy is followed by actions focused on food waste management, that is, the management of food removed from the food supply chain. Pathways for food waste recycling are the most beneficial, followed by the recovery actions, where food waste is used for energy generation. On the last level, items that cannot be used for any other purpose are discarded.

LOWINFOOD is focusing on the first levels of this hierarchy, that is, on prevention and reuse. The innovations that have been selected for the project are designed among promising solutions that have already been developed and tested by some partners and include technological tools and devices as well as organizational and managerial solutions.