Natural resources are consumed in food production, and food loss is consequently accompanied with a loss of resources as well as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This study analyses food loss based on India-specific production data (for the year 2013) and reported food loss rates during production and post-harvest stages of major food crops and animal products in India. Further, the study evaluates the environmental impacts of food loss in terms of utilization of water, land resources and GHG emissions. The total food loss in harvest and post-harvest stages of the food supply chain for the selected food items amounted to 58.3 ± 2.22 million tonnes (Mt) in the year 2013 with the highest losses by mass in sugarcane and rice. The volume of water associated with the food losses was found to be 115 ± 4.15 billion m3, of which 105 ± 3.77 billion m3 was direct water use (blue + green) and 9.54 ± 0.38 billion m3 was indirect water use (grey). Wasted sugarcane and rice were found to be the largest contributors for water loss. Land footprint and carbon footprint associated with food loss were found to be 9.58 ± 0.4 million hectares (Mha) and 64.1 ± 3.8 Mt CO2eq, respectively, with rice accounting for the largest impact in both. This highlights the immediate need for quantification and taking measures for minimization of losses across the food supply chains in India.

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