Food waste facts and figures

 Getting food from the farm to our fork eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten.

GLOBAL FOOD WASTE NOT, WANT NOT. Improving the world through engineering, 2014 Institution of Mechanical Engineers. 


Today, we produce about four billion metric tonnes of food per annum. Yet due to poor practices in harvesting, storage, and transportation, as well as market and consumer wastage, it is estimated that 30–50% (or 1.2–2 billion tonnes) of all food produced never reaches a human stomach.

Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill, Author Dana Gunders Natural Resources Defense Council, 


Overall, on a per-capita basis, much more food is wasted in the industrialized world than in developing countries. We estimate that the per capita food waste by consumers in Europe and North-America is 95-115 kg/year, while this figure in sub-Saharan Africa and South/Southeast Asia is only 6-11 kg/year.

FAO. 2011. Global food losses and food waste – Extent, causes, and prevention. Rome 


According to data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 13 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States can be attributed to our food system—growth, manufacturing, transportation, and disposal.


A survey in Ghana put losses of onions and tomatoes at 13.6% and 30.4% respectively, whilst losses from mangoes reached 60%. Processing (e.g. canning, freezing, or drying) has been identified as a solution to post-harvest losses of fresh fruit and vegetables.


Collectively, 38Mt of food and drink enter UK homes each year, of which nearly one fifth is discarded. This translates into a £12bn annual food surplus, costing £480 per average household and £680 for family households.

Food waste within global food systems., Global Food Security Programme. 


An estimated 20 to 40% of UK fruit and vegetables are rejected even before they reach the shops – mostly because they do not match the supermarkets’ excessively strict cosmetic standards.


1. Total and per capita value of food loss in the United States: Jean C. Buzby, Jeffrey Hyman., Available online 20 July 2012.,
2. Food Waste Reduction and Prevention.,
3. FAO. 2011. Global food losses and food waste – Extent, causes and prevention. Rome., by Jenny Gustavsson, Christel Cederberg, Ulf Sonesson, Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology (SIK) Gothenburg, Sweden
4. Food Loss and Food Waste, FAO.,
5. FoodDrinkEurope, Anual Report 2013.
6. Bond, M., Meacham, T., Bhunnoo, R. and Benton, T.G. (2013) Food waste within global food systems. A Global Food Security report (

8. Food labeling terms,