EU wastes 153m tonnes of food a year – much more than it imports, says report

Bloc must halve its food waste by 2030 to tackle climate crisis and improve food security, say campaigners


Arthur Neslen, The Guardian (UK)

20 Sep 2022


The EU wastes more food than it imports and could puncture food price inflation by simply curbing on-farm waste, according to a report.


About 153m tonnes of food in the EU are frittered away every year, double previous estimates and 15m tonnes more than is shipped in, according to the study’s estimates.


The amount of wheat wasted in the EU alone is equal to roughly half of Ukraine’s wheat exports, and a quarter of the EU’s other grain exports, it says.


Frank Mechielsen, the director of Feedback EU, which produced the study, said: “At a time of high food prices and a cost of living crisis, it’s a scandal that the EU is potentially throwing away more food than it’s importing. The EU now has a massive opportunity to set legally binding targets to halve its food waste from farm to fork by 2030 to tackle climate change and improve food security.”


Global food prices last month were 8% higher than a year ago, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), partly driven by the war in Ukraine.


Wheat, maize and soya bean prices have this year even overshot records set at the height of the 2008 world financial crisis.


Abdolreza Abbassian, a grain market analyst and former senior FAO economist, said the era of cheap food was over and prices would probably remain high, even after the Russia-Ukraine war has ended.


“Because of the energy situation, the fertiliser situation, uncertainties in the world, including in transport and shipments, not to mention climate change we have to accept that we are not going to see food prices at the levels of a decade ago, that we had become used to,” he said.


Olivier De Schutter, a co-chair of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, and a UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said the problem was that the agrifood industry had historically found waste more advantageous than efficiency...


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