Which Countries Waste the Most Food?

It’s no surprise that food waste is a global problem, and like with any global issue, seeing which countries waste the most food can help fight this problem in a more targeted way.

Despite the fact that food production is a major contributor to global carbon emissions, people keep throwing it out! In fact, about 7 percent of global carbon emissions are directly related to food we don’t even eat. The 2017 Food Sustainability Index found that globally, some of the most wasteful countries on earth were the US, Australia and — surprisingly — Sweden.

The data, compiled and shared by Magnet, was surprising, to say the least. Scroll down to see the data compiled into an infographic.

The Worst Food Waste Offenders

In 2017, Australia wasted the largest amount of food per person. Australians threw away around 361 kg (795 lb) of food per person in 2017. The United States came in second at 287 kg (632 lb) of food waste per person, and Sweden came in third at about 200 kg (440 lb).

Meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum, residents of Greece and China appeared to be the most conscientious, wasting about 44 kg (97 lb) per person a piece. In third and fourth place for food conscientiousness were India and Russia, which wasted 51 kg (112 lb) and 56 kg (123 lb), respectively.

Magnet_FoodwasteInfographic_v3

Why Does Food Go to Waste?

While these numbers are horrible, there’s more to the story than simple irresponsible consumer behavior. That can certainly contribute to food waste, but it’s not the only issue.

According to a paper by researchers at the University of Minnesota, food goes to waste for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Overproduction by farmers — farmers need to guarantee the supply of food, and often overproduce in order to ensure they can meet these demands
  • Contamination of food during the food supply chain process, including during the harvest, storage, processing and transportation of the food
  • Stores catering to consumer desires to have all produce available at all times; this leads stores to overstock their shelves, which means that foods sometimes go unpurchased
  • Inconsistent and sometimes premature expiration dates that cause customers to throw food out when it has not yet turned
  • Desire from consumers to have all produce look perfect, and an aversion to eating irregularly shaped, colored or heritage-breed produce

Tips for Reducing Your Personal Food Waste

Everyone can do their part to help reduce food waste. Here are a few tips for doing what you can.

  • Buy “ugly” produce! Services like Imperfect Produce deliver unwanted fruits and veggies to your door.
  • Shop at farmers’ markets. Reduce wasteful behaviors like grocery store overstocking by purchasing your food directly from the source.
  • Avoid commodity crops. Farmers are paid to overproduce goods like soy, peanuts, wheat and corn. Avoid these products so you’re not supporting the way commercial growns are overproduced.
  • Shop daily. Do as the French do! Instead of buying your groceries once a week, head to the market on your way home from work to pick up the day’s dinner.
  • Eat leftovers the next day. People often neglect their leftovers the day after they’re made, assuming they’ll eat them later in the week. But the longer you wait, the less appetizing those leftovers are going to seem. Eat them right away to make sure they don’t go to waste

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Image via Thinkstock.

125 comments

David C
David C8 hours ago

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David C
David C8 hours ago

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David C
David C8 hours ago

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Paulo Reeson
Paulo Reeson8 hours ago

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Thomas M
Thomas M1 days ago

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Martija M
Marija Mohoric2 days ago

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Mike R
Mike R2 days ago

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Lara A
Lara A2 days ago

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hELEN h
hELEN hEARFIELD2 months ago

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Tabot T
Tabot T4 months ago

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