The Global Food Waste Scandal

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Food waste facts

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A third of the world’s food is wasted


The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation claims that “roughly one-third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption, gets lost or wasted globally, which is about 1.3 billion ton per year.” (FAO 2011, Global Food Losses and Food Waste)

Estimates of global food waste have been as high as 30 or 50 per cent. Although these estimates are based on what has been described as “a weak evidence base” and “inadequate and dated” the evidence shows “there is little doubt that the scale is substantial”. The Government Office for Science 2011, Foresight: The Future of Food and Farming

Food waste generates 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases


Food waste uses up to ‘1.4 billion hectares of land – 28 per cent of the world’s agricultural area’. Moreover, “globally, the blue water footprint for the agricultural production of total food waste in 2007 is about 250km3, which is more than 38 times the blue water footprint of USA households. FAO 2013, Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources

UK households waste 7.3 million tonnes

The latest figures from WRAP, UK households waste £13 billion worth of food every year.  Which if prevented, would have the environmental benefit of taking one in four cars off the road.

4600 kilocalories of food are harvested per day for every person on the planet; only around 2000 are eaten

More than half of it is lost on the way.  Tristram Stuart 2009, Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal

Fruit and vegetable waste facts

Since the launch of our wonky vegetables campaign, vegetables that would have been wasted in the past have become the fastest growing sector of the fresh produce market.  From 2012-13 the relaxation of cosmetic standards saved 300,000 tonnes of produce from being wasted on UK farms.  BBC 2012


Hunger facts

$160 billion worth of food gets wasted just by grocery stores and their customers in the US – enough to feed all the world’s malnourished people. Find out more in our video below.

Fish waste facts

2.3 million tonnes of fish is discarded in the North Atlantic and the North Sea each year; 40-60% of all fish caught in Europe is discarded – either because they are the wrong size, species, or because of the ill-governed European quota system. Tristram Stuart 2009, Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal

Meat and dairy waste facts  

At least 20 times more carbon dioxide can be saved by feeding food waste to pigs rather than sending it for anaerobic digestion. But under European laws feeding much food waste to pigs is banned. In Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, by contrast, it is mandatory to feed some food waste to pigs. Feeding pigs on food waste could reduce the demand for up to 268k of soybean. Nearly half of Europe’s soybeans come from Brazil and reducing the expansion of soybean production there could save over 40 million trees (read the full study here). Read more about The Pig Idea.

Grain waste facts

The bread and other cereal products thrown away in UK households is enough to lift 30 million people out of malnourishment. Tristram Stuart 2009, Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal

Water waste fact

The irrigation water used globally to grow food that is wasted would be enough for the domestic needs (at 200 litres per person per day) of 9 billion people – the number expected on the planet by 2050. Tristram Stuart 2009, Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal