Food Waste Facts
On this page you will be able to get familiar with some statistics and data about world food waste.
1. 1/3 of all food in the world is wasted. This 1.3 billion tons of food would be enough to feed 4 times all the hungry in the world.
2. Almost 1 billion people are hungry worldwide. On the other hand around 1.5 billion people in the whole world are overweight and 400 million are obese.
3. In USA between 40% and 50% of food is thrown away. The waste is valued at $165 billion (it’s ¼ of the US military budget).
4. An average American throws out about 240 lbs of food per year.
5. An average American family of 4 throws out food worth $2,275.
6. A 20% reduction in food waste would be enough to feed 25 million Americans.
7. Food waste happens on various levels: 20-25% on manufacturing, 15-20% on retail and 55-65% on consumer.
8. Rotting food produce methane, a gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, which causes climate change.
9. Growing food that is never eaten emits 10% of “rich countries’” gas emissions.
10. European countries have three times more food than they actually need, while the US have four times more food.
11. 40 to 60% of all fish are discarded because of the wrong size, species or some other regulations.
12. Food waste also has other costs:
- 40-50% of wasted food uses up 25 % of all fresh water in USA
- 4% of total US oil consumption
- it cost $750 million to dispose of this food
13. You need to see food as a final product of a complex chain of processes. By throwing it out, you throw away water that was used to produce it. You throw away all the work that was put into the production of corn for cow’s food. You throw away a piece of land that was used to produce your favorite red tomato.
14. 8.3 millions hectares required just to produce meat and dairy products wasted in UK and US. This is seven times the area of the Amazon forest destroyed in one year.
15. In industrialized countries more food waste is created on the consumer and retail level. In developing countries more food waste is created on the manufacturing level.
16. In developed countries food waste is created on 3 main levels: Manufacturer (20-25%), Distribution (15-20%) and Consumer (55-65%).
17. Every year the EU throws away 90 million tons of food. If put on trucks, it would span the equator.
18. The only products that have to display the ‘best before’ date, are ones that have no assumed risk to health if consumed after the expiration date.
19. There are laws that make producers throw out potatoes because they are too small, cucumbers too curvy and tomatoes that don’t have the right shade of red.
20. 1 of the 3 bites of food we eat, is thanks to the pollination of honeybees.
21. If you cut in half the percentage of food going into the landfill, you cut the methane gas emissions 7.5%, from depleting the ozone layer.
22. Retailers define the so called ‘quality’ we live by, and we have to align ourselves accordingly. It is not based on nutritional value, just economic.
23. Most households throw away things they don’t need anymore. And if they might need them later, they simply restock.
24. Food is not meant to look good, it’s meant to taste good!
Facts about the retail sector
1. Supermarkets are one of the biggest companies in the world. In fact Walmart is the biggest company in the world in terms of turnover. For the past couple of years Carrefour (a French giant) has been growing constantly.
2. Supermarkets are the intermediary between manufacturers and consumers. They are responsible for creating the supply to which the demand is adjusted.
3. In developed countries more than 80% of all grocery purchases are made in supermarkets. Moreover, for instance in Spain 55% of all groceries stores are made in the 5 biggest supermarkets (Carrefour, Mercadona, Opencor, Dinosol, Eroski)
4. Very few supermarkets talk about their food waste (e.g. Waitrose, UK). Sometimes they mention organic waste, in general its usually recycling.
5. Supermarkets tend to lock their dumpsters so that people don’t see what is inside.
6. Dumpster divers are people that go from one supermarket to another looking for free food in the garbage bins. They are part of the freeganism movement. Many say that they would never be able to afford such good quality food.
7. Supermarkets often close contracts with big food producers. It leads to enormous waste at the manufacturers level. If a banana producer has a contract with Walmart for 100 tons a year, he needs to plan his production for more in order to be sure to fulfill the contract.
8. In many developed countries there are laws that set standards for fruits and vegetables, e.g. a potato cannot be too big or too small. It leads to tons of waste.
9. Sell by dates - products have two types of dates. One is for customers: use by or best by and the other is for supermarkets: sell by date. To avoid selling expired products supermarkets throw out food that is still edible.
Facts about the gastronomy sector
1. An average restaurant in America disposes of about 50 tons of food waste each year, from which 76% is organic and can be recycled
2. The British restaurants dispose in total of 600,000 tons of food waste per year
3. An average restaurant in Britain disposes of about 22 tons of food waste per year, which means each time a person eats, it creates 0.5 kg (1.2 lbs) of waste