Growing up, your parents probably guilted you into eating broccoli by saying that hungry communities across the globe could be eating it instead. And although that bit of wasted food was seemingly minuscule, the amount of waste your community produces on a daily makes a big impact. Decomposing food emits greenhouse gases, and the amount of water and emissions required to grow and sell produce is astronomical. Hunger is also still a rampant problem that many communities grapple with regularly.
With that in mind, though, the amount of food that countries waste annually is truly astronomical — keep reading for more on how much food is wasted per year by some of the most wasteful countries worldwide. The numbers are seriously shocking.
How much food is wasted every year worldwide?
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Americans have been deemed the "global leaders" in food waste, which is, well, pretty embarrassing. The U.S. discards about 40 million tons of food every year, according to RTS, which is equal to about 219 pounds per person, and upwards of 30 percent of the country's food supply. Yikes.
The U.K. wastes about 3.6 million tonnes of food every year, according to Fare Share, which is largely from farmers, growers, manufacturers, processors, wholesalers, retailers, and food service companies. Sadly, about 4.7 million people across the U.K. experience food insecurity.
China wastes about 6 percent of the nation's food supply every year, which is equivalent to about 35 million tonnes of food, according to IFAD, which could feed between 30 and 50 million people. About half of the amount of food wasted (between 17 and 18 million) is tossed during the last stage of the supply chain, at the grocery store or during consumption.
In Russia, approximately 17 million tons of food are wasted annually, which is almost like tossing 1.6 trillion rubles ($25 billion USD) directly into the trash, according toThe Moscow Times. The amount of discarded food could feed about 30 million people, which far exceeds the number of people who currently live below the poverty line.
Every year, 10 million tonnes of food go to waste in South Africa, which is equal to about a third of the food produced nationwide, according to WWF. The amount of food that goes to waste is valued at R61.5 billion (equal to about $4,010,968.50 USD), and about 70 percent of that waste consists of healthy food — fruits, vegetables, and cereal.
While Australia is all about sustainability, food waste is a huge problem in the land down under, according to Australia's Department of Agriculture. The country wastes approximately $20 billion worth of food annually, which translates to 7.3 million tonnes of food. This equals about 300 kilograms of food waste per person, accounting for over 5 percent of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions.
India wastes approximately 67 million tonnes of food every year, which is valued at about 92,000 crores ($12.6 million USD). About 21 million metric tons of wheat alone is wasted per year across the country, as per Krishi Jagran.
Brazil lets 26 million tons of food go to waste each year, according to Global Giving. Major grocery retailers across the country refrain from donating excess food to pantries, however, because many people don't trust NGOs, as some NGOs are disorganized in coordinating food drives.
How can I help fight food waste?
In addition to only buying the amount of food you'll actually use per shopping trip, there are many ways to fight food waste. You can freeze food, eat your leftovers instead of tossing them, sign up for a meal delivery program, make use of food scraps, and simply learn to store food properly. You can also sign up with Too Good To Go, an app that fights food waste by selling extra meals for a lower price at the end of the day, or order from companies that sell ugly produce to shoppers at a lower rate.
Food waste is a huge global issue, so we strongly suggest doing everything you can to lower your personal impact.