12 Food Waste Facts and Statistics

If you’ve ever thrown out milk that’s gone bad or veggies you never got around to cooking, like the rest of us have done, that’s a contribution to food waste. Tons of food gets tossed aside and thrown out every day, unfortunately in some pretty big numbers. Here are just a few food waste facts and statistics pulled from the latest research.

1. 40 percent of all food produced in North America is wasted

Nearly half of everything we cultivate and manufacture in the food industry in the United States and Canada ends up unfortunately discarded as waste. Cost-wise, we throw out $341 billion in food waste every year.

2. The amount of food never eaten is grown on land larger than China

The amount of farm space dedicated to growing food that ultimately never gets eaten and is tossed away is larger than China. This is yet another fact that communicates the full scope of exactly how much is thrown out worldwide and the potential that exists there to fix it.

3. The average household wastes $1,500 worth of food annually

Household waste is a big contributor to food waste, even if all a person’s throwing away is a little at the time. A little adds up over time. Consumers are encouraged to be careful with their produce, meats, and other items which have a clear expiration date to them and which will rot in time.

4. Grocery stores are responsible for 10 percent of food waste

Despite the fact that one out of 7 families in the United States is food insecure, grocery stores are still contributing roughly 10 percent of the country’s total food waste. It’s estimated annually, grocery stores are throwing away more than 43 billion pounds of food.

5. Grocery stores are changing the way they do things

To their credit, grocery stores have committed to hard targets on bringing down their food waste with advanced waste disposal and trash compaction methods. These efforts include brands like Walmart. In fact, Walmart is considered the supermarket in North America with the best food waste record and as they continue to bring down how much food they toss, they’re only going to continue earning that top spot.

6. 50 percent of produce is thrown out while still edible

Every piece of produce has an expiration date and when that passes, grocery stores and consumers will often toss it – regardless of whether the food is edible or not. Stores also oftentimes remove produce that looks ‘ugly’, ditching fruits with slight bruising or veggies with imperfections, and this also contributes to the high amount of produce being wasted.

7. A lot of water is used to grow food never eaten

The full scope of the consequences of food waste is that we’re wasting a ton of water on crops which never go to anything meaningful. Some estimates have it as high as 25 percent of the world’s fresh water supply being used to grow food which is never eaten.

8. Healthy eaters waste more food

For all the benefits of healthy eating, unfortunately, healthier foods are what tend to be wasted more. Fruits and vegetables make up 39 percent of the United States’ total food waste, followed by 17 percent of dairy and 14 percent meat and meat-mixed dishes. If you’re eating on a high quality diet, we strongly recommend evaluating how much food waste is being generated.

9. Consumers waste more than grocery stores

Although it’s natural to not want to look at ourselves when analyzing the food waste problem, consumers alone still generate 67 million tonnes of food waste every year in North America – far higher than grocery stores and other sources. We may not be throwing out very much waste individually however summing up all household food waste, evidently, there’s a problem here.

10. Home delivery meals are less wasteful

You may have seen commercials for home delivery meals or subscription foods you can order online and have entire recipes delivered to your front door. As it turns out, those meals carry a lower carbon footprint than similar meals made at your local grocery store.

11. All the world’s hungry could be fed on the amount of food we waste

If we gathered together all of the food waste in the world, not only would it feed all the hungry people in the world but you could do it on only 25% or less of the food we waste. That says a tremendous amount about the scale of waste produced in the world and the disservice we are doing to our species.

12. By 2050, global food production will have to increase by 70 percent

In the next 3 decades, another 2.3 billion people are going to be on this planet and they’re all going to need food. If we don’t increase our global food production by 60-70 percent, there’s going to be big trouble ahead. For this reason, lowering food waste and improving on the efficiency of current food management can drastically lower the increase required and ultimately contribute to more people being fed good, quality food. We just need to do it!

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