Social and cultural conditions of small- and medium-scale farmers, fisheries, food manufactories are the causes of food loss in low-income countries, where men and women play different roles. In rural settings, while women are often the main actors, social barriers may block their involvement in other stages of the chain and it affects their productivity and efficiency in food production and in income-generating activities. The main concerns are managerial and technical limitations in harvesting, storage, transportation, processing, cooling facilities, infrastructure, packaging and marketing systems.
The causes of food waste in medium- and high-income countries are mainly at the consumer level, with inadequate planning of purchases and where abundance, due to availability of food at low cost, lead people not to give the right value to it. Moreover the policies and regulations put in place, as agricultural subsidies, may contribute to the production of surplus quantities of farm crops, of which at least a proportion is lost or wasted. Finally food safety and quality standards can be applied in ways that remove food that is still safe for human consumption from the food supply chain; an example it’s the failure in understanding the meaning of “best before” and “expiry date”.