Rural livelihoods within global supply chains: Food waste and recovery in East Africa from global supply chains to local food systems

With a rising world population, producing and distributing enough food to feed everyone creates many challenges for the food industry. In the present state of growing concern over global food insecurity, coupled with the associated environmental burden of food production, there is a recognised need to address food waste, which is estimated to account for one-third of global food production. There is clear evidence that supermarket power in global supply chains influences waste at the farm gate, which contributes to a global problem of food and environmental unsustainability. At the same time, local level interventions by farmers and others push back against these forces to keep rejected food from becoming waste.

Using ethnographic methods, this project seeks to understand firstly how food produced by farmers in an East African context is shaped by such political economies to become waste, and secondly how that waste is being re-integrated, or not, into local scale food systems operating within the region. It is hoped that the research findings will help to inform future policy-making and practice particularly, by drawing out lessons for the overall and equitable reduction of food waste in international supply chains.

Jonas Cromwell


Dr Megan Blake

Department of Geography


Dr Claire Quinn

Sustainability Research Institute, University of Leeds

Dr Stephen Whitfield

Sustainability Research Institute, University of Leeds