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Top 15 Eye-Opening Food Waste Statistics for 2023

Food waste is a global problem that affects us all. Every day, we throw away tons of perfectly good food that could have been used to feed people in need. In fact, this is one of the biggest environmental and economic challenges facing the world today. 

It’s estimated that over one-third of all produced food worldwide goes to waste, and the numbers are only getting worse. These statistics are not just staggering but also highlight the urgent need for action on this issue. So, if you’re ready to learn more about food waste statistics and how we can all play a part in reducing them, read on!

Key Food Waste Statistics You Should Know

  • Food waste amounts to $1 trillion globally per year.
  • On average, every household worldwide generates 74kg of food waste per year.
  • The US wastes around 40% of its food.
  • 931 million tonnes of food were wasted in 2019.
  • In Europe, food waste makes up 50% of the overall waste in landfills.
  • Food waste comprises around 10% of human-made greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Households generated 61% of food waste in 2019.
  • The annual uneaten food contains enough calories to feed over 150 million people.

What Is Food Waste?

Food waste is a massive problem that plagues our planet and our wallets. In simple terms, it refers to any edible food that’s discarded or goes uneaten, even though it could have been consumed. 

From farms to our kitchens, food waste occurs at every step of the supply chain and results in staggering economic, social, and environmental consequences. With millions of people still going hungry every day, and our natural resources dwindling, the impact of food waste is more profound than ever before. So, if you’re ready to take action and join the fight against food waste, keep reading!

What Causes Food Waste?

Food waste is a global problem with serious economic, social, and environmental consequences. But what causes it? 

There are several reasons why food goes to waste, including:

  • Overproduction
  • Lack of proper storage and handling
  • Confusing expiration dates
  • Consumer behavior

In some cases, crops are left to rot in fields because they don’t meet aesthetic standards or because there’s no market demand. At other times, food is wasted due to inadequate transportation or distribution systems. Meanwhile, in our homes, we often throw away perfectly fine food because we cooked too much, forgot about items in the back of the fridge, or don’t know how to store leftovers properly. 

By understanding the causes of food waste, we can take steps to reduce it and create a more sustainable food system.

Global Food Waste Stats

931 million tonnes of food were wasted in 2019.

(Source: UNEPCCC)

That equals 17% of the total available food. Meanwhile, hunger is a problem affecting over 600 million people  — a problem that reducing food waste can alleviate to some extent. 

landfill black and white

China and India are the countries responsible for the most food waste in 2023.

(Source: World Population Review)

It’s not a huge surprise, considering the massive population of these countries. But that’s far from the only reason. As these countries experience rapid economic growth, their food systems become more complex, leading to more waste. Plus, there are cultural factors at play. The importance of presenting an abundance of food in social situations also contributes to food waste in these countries.

The annual uneaten food contains enough calories to feed over 150 million people.

(Source: EPA)

It’s mind-boggling to think about the annual wastage of food while millions of people worldwide go hungry. Just imagine how many families could be fed if we all made a conscious effort to reduce food waste and put those extra calories to good use.

Food waste amounts to $1 trillion globally per year.

(Source: Research Gate)

In developing countries the cost is $310 billion annually, causing a strain on various resources, including energy, water, and land. This also causes a negative impact on individual and national economies, as well as on food security.

Households generated 61% of food waste in 2019.

(Source: UNEP)

Food waste facts show that 26% came from food service and 13% came from retail. Household food waste per person is similar across different income groups, so this issue concerns high, upper-middle, and lower-middle income countries.

Food waste makes up around 10% of total human-made greenhouse gas emissions.

(Source: UNEPCCC)

Around 70% of biodiversity loss is a result of agriculture production, meaning that food waste also plays a major role in the decline of plant and animal species. It’s all interconnected, and that’s just a small part of the worrying climate change facts

In Europe, food makes up 50% of the waste in landfills.

(Source: Science Direct)

Landfills have a limited capacity, and we’re filling that up quicker than ever with our food waste problem. The more waste we pile up in them, the more methane gas and contamination spread across the regions where the landfills are. Also, the sooner we’ll have to dedicate more land for our trash disposal. It’s an avalanche of issues that can have catastrophic consequences for us and the planet.

The UK wastes 270,000 tonnes of food during Christmas.

(Source: PackagingOnline)

That food includes perfectly edible turkeys, cheese, mince pies, and puddings. It contributes significantly to the negative impact of Christmas. While we spare no expense for our holiday cheer, the planet gets more and more suffocated by our waste.

The most wasted food in Italian households for 2022 was fresh fruit.

(Source: Statista)

The recent statistics on food wastage show this was closely followed by onion and garlic (17%), salads (16%), and fresh bread (16%). These are all types of biodegradable materials that we can compost. The trouble is that they go to landfills instead since biodegradable materials can produce significant greenhouse gas emissions there.

Approximately 77% of Japanese consumers have taken steps to decrease food waste in 2022.

(Source: Statista)

That’s 1.3% less than in 2021, but it’s still a considerably high result compared to other countries. While the country wastes a considerable amount of food, it also serves as an example of how we can solve this issue. Reducing your food waste is just one option. 

Japanese companies are taking an innovative approach to solving the food waste problem by reusing food waste to make new products. For instance, they turn dried food scraps into concrete and use coffee grounds and eggshells to make new furniture. 

Now that’s what I call setting an example!

food waste on the ground

US Food Waste Statistics

Approximately 60% of Americans believe that food waste is a significant problem.

(Source: Statista)

Also, 10% of the survey respondents were uncertain whether food waste is a significant issue. Well, it is. At first sight, food waste doesn’t sound as alarming as climate change or even water pollution, but these issues are all interconnected. That’s why you should pay attention to all of them. 

The US wastes around 40% of its food.

(Source: NRDC)

That’s over 1,200 calories per person daily. Food waste in America occurs at every stage of the supply chain, including farming, processing, distribution, storage, retail, food service operations, and households. This waste is not just about spoiled produce, but also about wasting money, resources, and contributing to climate change.

Thanksgiving generated 305 million pounds of food waste in 2022. 

(Source: ReFED)

This food waste has social, economic, and environmental consequences, including generating greenhouse gas emissions and using a large amount of water. Also, it could have fed the 38.3 million food-insecure people in the US.

Arizona was the state with the most food waste in 2022.

(Source: LawnStarter)

The state also had the lowest share recycled across the US. This food waste in the US is somewhat shocking, considering that 17% of the people in the state suffer from food insecurity. It’s as if they’re not truly aware of the scale of the problem and how much food they could save with little to no effort.


How much food is wasted every year?

Nearly one-third of all food produced is wasted globally every year. The consequences range from food insecurity to climate change impact.

What country wastes the most food?

According to recent food waste facts, China wastes the most food — over 90 million in 2023. India and the US follow closely behind. And while the first two countries can blame their food waste on their huge populations, the same cannot be said about the US.

How much food is wasted in the US?

The US wastes roughly 40% of its food.  This wasted food not only has negative impacts on the environment but also costs the US economy over $200 billion annually.

How much food is wasted annually per person?

The amount of food waste per person varies widely by country, but on average, a person in North America or Europe wastes about 210–250 lbs of food per year. This amounts to roughly one-third of all food produced for human consumption.

What is the biggest cause of food waste?

The biggest cause of food waste is consumer behavior, with households being the most responsible. Food waste data shows that this includes buying too much food, throwing away edible food, and not storing it properly. However, food waste also occurs throughout the supply chain, due to factors such as overproduction, aesthetic standards, and inefficient distribution.

How bad is food waste?

Well, millions of people around the world go hungry every day, and we throw away food that could feed a significant percentage of them. That’s quite bad. Also, food waste has environmental consequences, and climate change really doesn’t need the extra push.

Is food waste a crisis?

Food waste is a global crisis with devastating consequences. Food waste statistics confirm that we waste over a billion tons of food anually, which also harms the planet. It’s a ticking time bomb that threatens our health, environment, and economy. We should take action now to prevent it from getting worse.

How can we stop food waste?

Reducing food waste starts with small changes at home, such as planning meals, shopping wisely, and using leftovers. Supporting local food waste organizations and donating excess food is also helpful. Plus, businesses and policymakers can implement composting programs, improve supply chain management, and promote food waste initiatives. Together, we can make a big impact on this critical issue.


  1. FAO
  2. Statista
  3. Statista
  4. Statista
  5. Statista
  6. Research Gate
  7. UNEP
  8. Science Direct
  10. EPA
  11. NRDC
  12. LawnStarter
  13. World Population Review
  14. ReFED

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