Report on estimates of European food waste levels

Food waste is an issue of importance to global food security and good environmental governance, directly linked with environmental, economic and social impacts. Different studies show that between 1/3 and 1/2 of the world food production is not consumed, leading to negative impacts throughout the food supply chain including households. There is a pressing need to prevent and reduce food waste to make the transition to a resource efficient Europe.

The collection and analysis of data from across Europe for this study generated an estimate of food waste in the EU-28 of 88 million tonnes.This estimate is for 2012 and includes both edible food and inedible parts associated with food. This equates to 173 kilograms of food waste per person in the EU-28. The total amounts of food produced in EU for 2011 were around 865 kg / person , this would mean that in total we are wasting 20 percent of the total food produced.

The sectors contributing the most to food waste are households (47 million tonnes ± 4 million tonnes) and processing (17 million tonnes ± 13 million tonnes). These two sectors account for 72 percent of EU food waste, although there is considerable uncertainty around the estimate for the processing sector compared to all the other sectors. This is due to only four MS providing information of sufficiently high quality. In addition the differences in the normalized food waste amounts between the countries were great. Of the remaining 28 percent of food waste 11 million tonnes (12%) comes from food service, 9 million tonnes (10%) comes from primary production and 5 million tonnes (5%) comes from wholesale and retail.

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Last updated: 2021-05-05

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

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IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute has a wide environmental profile. We combine applied research and development with close collaboration between industry and the public sphere. Our consultancy is evidence-based, and our research is characterized by interdisciplinary science and system thinking.


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