UN report: food waste is a global tragedy

More food is still wasted worldwide every year than is needed to feed starving populations in developing countries. More than half of that waste occurs in households. This amounts to more than 1 billion tons of food, about 132 kilograms per world citizen and almost a fifth of all available food.

According to a new report from the UN organization UNEP, more than 1 billion meals are wasted worldwide every day. This is putting increasing pressure on the food supply, which is already under pressure from wars, climate change and population growth.

According to UNEP, 1.05 billion tons of food waste (including inedible parts) was generated in 2022. Of the total food waste, 60% comes from households around the world, 28% from the food supply and 12% from retail. According to UNEP, this emphasizes the need for awareness and behavior change at the level of individuals and families. 

The UN report calls for action at all levels, from governments and companies to individual consumers. The countries of the European Union recently decided to increase their efforts against food waste. It is left to the EU countries themselves whether this should also apply to the production branch in agriculture and horticulture.

In addition to the problem of food waste, the issue of food shortages is also addressed. While large amounts of food are wasted, millions of people around the world still suffer from hunger. This raises questions about the justice and sustainability of the global food system, says UNEP.

Food waste continues to harm the global economy and fuel climate change, nature loss and pollution, although UNEP reminds that it is not just a problem for rich countries. Countries with different income levels therefore waste, on average, a similar amount of food per person.

The report also highlights the role of technology and innovation in tackling food waste and shortages. Significant improvements can be achieved through smart solutions such as better storage techniques, more efficient distribution systems and the use of apps that help consumers reduce food waste.

“Food waste is a global tragedy. Millions of people will go hungry today due to food waste around the world,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen when presenting the report.