Food Wastage: Key Facts and Figures

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It is estimated that 1.3 billion tons of the 1.6 billion tons of global food waste volume are edible. Food losses and waste amount to roughly US$ 680 billion in industrialized countries and US$ 310 billion in developing countries.

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Food wastage carbon footprint is estimated at 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent of GHG released into the atmosphere per year.

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The total volume of water used each year to produce food that is lost or wasted (250km3) is equivalent to the annual flow of Russia’s Volga River, or three times the volume of Lake Geneva.

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Agriculture is responsible for a majority of threats to at-risk plant and animal species tracked by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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Home composting can potentially divert up to 150 kg of food waste per household per year from local collection authorities.

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The direct economic consequences of food wastage (excluding fish and seafood) run to the tune of $750 billion annually.

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Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes).

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Fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers have the highest wastage rates of any food.

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Global quantitative food losses and waste per year are roughly 30% for cereals, 40-50% for root crops, fruits, and vegetables, 20% for oilseeds, meat, and dairy plus 35% for fish.

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Total per capita food production for human consumption is about 900 kg a year in rich countries, almost twice the 460 kg a year produced in the poorest regions.

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At retail level, large quantities of food are wasted due to quality standards that over-emphasize appearance.

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The food currently lost or wasted in Latin America could feed 300 million people,

in Europe could feed 200 million people,
in Africa could feed 300 million people.

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Even if just one-fourth of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world.

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Food loss and waste also amount to a major squandering of resources, including water, land, energy, labour and capital and needlessly produce greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming and climate change.

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In developing countries, 40% of losses occur at post-harvest and processing levels while in industrialized countries more than 40% of losses happen at retail and consumer levels.