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Food Safety

Food Waste

About Food Waste

In the EU, nearly 57 million tonnes of food waste (127 kg/inhabitant) are generated annually with an associated market value estimated at 130 billion euros (Eurostat, 2022). Eurostat roughly estimates that around 10% of food made available to EU consumers (at retail, food services and households) may be wasted. At the same time, some 36.2 million people cannot afford a quality meal every second day (Eurostat, 2020).

Globally, approximately a third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted (FAO, 2011). FAO’s Food Loss Index (FLI) estimates that globally, around 14 percent of all food produced is lost from the post-harvest stage up to, but excluding, the retail stage (FAO, 2019).

According to the UNEP Food Waste Index 2021, around 931 million tonnes of food waste were generated in 2019 – 61% of which came from households, 26% from food service and 13% from retail – suggesting that 17% of global food production may be wasted at these stages of the food supply chain. Similarly, in the EU, households generate more than half of the total food waste (55%) in the EU with 71% of food waste arising at household, food service and retail (Eurostat, 2022).Wasting food is not only an ethical and economic issue but it also depletes the environment of limited natural resources. The EU is committed to meeting the Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3 to halve per capita food waste at the retail and consumer level by 2030, and reduce food losses along the food production and supply chains. By reducing food losses and waste to help achieve Sustainable Development Goals, we can also:

  • support the fight against climate change (food waste alone generates 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions (UNEP Food Waste Index 2021))
  • save nutritious food for redistribution to those in need, helping to eradicate hunger and malnutrition
  • save money for farmers, companies and households

The central goal of EU food safety policy is to protect both human and animal health. We cannot compromise on these standards but, in co-operation with Member States and stakeholders, are looking for every opportunity to prevent food waste and strengthen sustainability of the food system.

The Commission’s food waste webpages provide: