At Valent U.S.A. a product must meet strict, science-based evidence established under at least one of the three pillars of sustainability - People, Planet and Productivity to qualify for our sustainable criteria product assessment framework. Valent products that meet sufficient criteria in each pillar are designated as sustainable solutions. In order to highlight the key sustainable practices and attributes our products can provide to your sustainable agronomic production system, eight unique and easily distinguishable criteria icons have been established. One of the criteria that falls under the sustainable pillar of People is “Reduces Food Loss” and will be discussed in this article.
Through supporting growers in their operations and raising consumer awareness, Valent U.S.A. is dedicated to help reduce food loss. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 13.3 percent of the world’s food is lost after harvesting and before reaching retail markets while a further 17 percent is wasted at the consumer level.(1) UN Sustainable Development Goal number 12 provides information on food loss and waste and provides goals for reduction and how to achieve them. Specifically, SDG Goal 12.3 sets a goal to reduce per capita global food waste by half at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses by 2030.
Food is lost or wasted throughout the entire channel, from on farm losses to waste at the consumer level in the home, restaurants, or grocery stores. While the terms “food loss” and “food waste” are sometimes used interchangeably, they refer to two different aspects of the problem. Food loss usually refers to reduction in quantity and quality before consumption—for example, food lost during production to pests and diseases, harvesting inefficiency, and inefficient production. Food waste refers to food that is suitably edible and is intentionally discarded. (2, 3)
Reducing food loss, like any singular focus in a complex system, does not occur in a vacuum and each action comes at a cost. Food loss reduction may be greatest when considered alongside other competing factors for the individual grower, processor, retailer, and consumer. Several in-depth studies of food loss in various parts of the country have been conducted, including in California and North Carolina. A research trial conducted in California evaluated farm food loss with in-depth comprehensive farmer surveys and interviews of 20 different hand-harvested crops. According to the researchers, the results show that food loss is highly variable and dependent upon many different factors, including the crop, variety, market price, labor costs, grower practices, buyer specifications, and environmental conditions. (4)
With regard to on-farm production practices, a key to yield quantity and quality is pest management, especially towards the end of the growing season. An effort must be made to protect the commodity while it matures to harvest. After the commodity begins to mature, it is in a vulnerable state until harvest and even after harvest. A good example of this is the ripening of fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers. There are many insects and diseases that directly target the fruit while it matures. To increase harvest production and efficiency, these pests need to be managed. The principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) are well known and should be used to manage pests throughout the growing season in the best and most economical way possible.
Valent U.S.A. is well positioned to help farmers with managing insect, disease, and weed pests through harvest and in post-harvest and provides a line of products that fit well into IPM practices. These include Elumin® Fungicide, Excalia® Fungicide, DiPel® DF Biological Insecticide Dry Flowable, XenTari® Biological Insecticide Dry Flowable, Esteem® 0.86 EC Insect Growth Regulator, Esteem® 35 WP Insect Growth Regulator, Esteem® Ant Bait, Senstar® Insecticide, Pyganic® Crop Protection EC 1.4II / 5.0II†, Zeal® Miticide, Zeal® Miticide¹, Zeal® MVP Miticide, Zeal® SC and others. Valent also provides a strong line of plant growth regulators that can increase harvestable yield and harvest efficiency, including ReTain® Plant Growth Regulator Soluble Powder. Our website, valent.com, offers information on how to use these crop production tools to help in reducing food loss at the farm level.
Always read and follow label instructions. Some products may not be registered for sale or use in all states.
1 United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs: https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal12
3 Exploring the link among food loss, waste and food security: what the research should focus on? https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s40066-021-00302-z
4 On-farm food loss in northern and central California: Results of field survey measurements https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921344919301296