EU Food Loss and Waste Prevention Hub

Member State Page : Denmark

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Food loss and waste data – national:

1,214,000 tonnes of food waste in total/year, of which 814,000 tonnes edible fraction

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Food loss and waste data – sectoral:

Primary production: 59,000 tonnes/year (2018), of which 44,000 tonnes edible fraction Processing and manufacturing: 529,000 tonnes/year (2018), of which 385,000 tonnes edible fraction
Retail and other distribution: 99,000 tonnes/year (2018), of which 96,000 tonnes edible fraction
Restaurants and food services: 71,000 tonnes/year (2018), of which 42,000 tonnes edible fraction
Households: 456,000 tonnes/year (2017), of which 247,000 tonnes edible fraction

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National target: Reduce the amount of food waste across the food supply chain


The target of the Government of Denmark is to reduce the amount of food waste across the whole food supply chain. Furthermore Danish food business operators along the entire food value chain commit themselves to monitor and reduce their food waste by 50 % by 2030 through the voluntary agreement Denmark against Food Waste.  


The Danish Environmental Protection Agency is in charge of measuring the amounts of food waste generated across the entire value chain (i.e. the five sectors mentioned above).  All measurements follow the common methodology set out in the Commission Delegated Decision (EU) 2019/1597.

The table above with sectoral food loss and waste data presents the results from all the studies across the value chain.

The studies on food waste from the primary production and the processing and manufacturing sectors are based on surveys, interviews and statistical data.

The study on food waste from the retail sector is based on voluntary data from relevant stakeholders from the sector.

The study on food waste from restaurants and the food services sector is based on compositional analysis and national waste data.

The study on food waste at household level was carried out by using waste compositional analysis from 1,600 households located in four different Danish municipalities. Findings reveal that the total amount of household waste in 2017 amounts to 995,000 tonnes, of which 24.8% is food waste.


The Danish Government’s ‘Action plan for circular economy – National plan for prevention and management of waste 2020-2032’, includes the national food waste program, which describes Danish data, regulation and initiatives for reducing food waste and the edible fraction of food waste.

In 2019, the Danish Government established the Think Tank on Prevention of Food Loss and Food Waste – ONE\THIRD and launched the Denmark against Food Waste voluntary agreement, where food business operators along the entire food value chain commit to monitor and reduce their food waste by 50% by 2030.

The aim of ONE\THIRD is to form partnerships between stakeholders from food businesses, non-governmental organisations, research institutions and public authorities in order to raise awareness, promote initiatives, share science based knowledge and exchange best practices concerning food loss and waste reduction initiatives. The Think Tank consists of a board and 58 members recruited from the public and private spheres, representing the whole food supply chain.

The work of the Think Tank ONE\THIRD is guided by the following five objectives:

  1. Support the civil society's battle against food loss and food waste;
  2. Contribute to general business opportunities;
  3. Offer insights on how to overcome barriers to prevent food losses and food waste;
  4. Ensure that data collection and impact assessments are improved; and
  5. Cooperate with foreign partners on know-how and sharing of experiences.

The Think Tank ONE\THIRD offers advice to the Danish Government on initiatives to reduce food losses and food waste, in line with the five objectives. Recommendations on food losses and food waste were also issued under the 13 Climate Partnerships established by the Danish Government in 2019. These inputs guide national initiatives to reduce food losses and food waste along the entire food supply chain.

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration is cooperating with official authorities, companies and research institutions to boost and optimize the industry for ingredients and raw materials. The national Danish ingredients strategy (2019) aims to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (particularly SDG 12.3) by trying to minimise barriers for innovative new solutions that can reduce food waste, e.g. by prolonging shelf-life or utilising sidestreams from food and feed production. For example, by simplifying approval procedures for ingredients that pose no food safety risk and can contribute to reducing food waste. A National Bioeconomy Panel was set up in order to develop new and sustainable value chains for bioeconomy in Denmark. This covers renewable biological resources and the conversion of these resources and their waste into products such as food, feed, biomaterials and bioenergy.

The project ‘From food waste to added value for the food chain’ (2019) focussed on promoting the work of the Fødevare Banken (Danish food bank) which distributes surplus food from food businesses to organisations that cook and serve meals for socially vulnerable people.

On the conversion to organic food of professional public kitchens, studies commissioned by the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration have shown that kitchens have not only been able to increase the procurement of organic products, but at the same time they have reduced food waste significantly. The organic price premium is partly covered by reducing food waste, allowing more organic meals without an increase in operating budgets.

In order to raise awareness on the issue of food waste, Denmark launched a National Food Waste Day celebrated yearly on 29 September (aligned with the UN International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste). The aim is to give further visibility to civil society initiatives and to inform and instruct citizens about how to save food. Several consumer information campaigns on the meaning of date marking have been carried out and extensive guidelines on the meaning, understanding and handling of date markings have been established. Aarhus University has conducted several studies on date marking with the aim of improving consumer understanding of date marking.

The report ‘Consumer food waste in Denmark (2018) published by the Aarhus University offers a better understanding of consumers’ perceptions and behaviours related to food waste, in order to inform measures to limit such waste.

The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries  has produced school educational materials for classes from fourth to sixth grade (roughly 10-12 year-olds), as part of a broader agenda to promote the reduction and reuse of waste.

Several food business sectors have developed guidance on food waste reduction and some businesses have introduced additional training for staff, including on the possibility to donate surplus food.

Research and innovation are key in order to define and implement initiatives that ensure an optimal use of food at each stage of the food supply chain, focusing on the best destination for surplus food and a maximal valorisation of edible food resources. Some R&I projects carried out in Denmark include:

  • SqM-Farm (2018-2020): employed artificial intelligence tools to control crops, thus helping to prevent food loss by reducing the risk of diseases and pests. 
  • SlipFoil (2019-2020): developed a new surface coating for the inside of yoghurt packaging, which will make the yoghurt slide easier from the package and thereby reduce food waste.
  • EatGrim (2019-2020): built a platform for the sale of ‘ugly vegetables’ for restaurants and canteens.

The project ‘Mapping and standardizing animal welfare when slaughtered’ (2020) is looking into how fewer injuries from harsh handling, inadequate housing and sedation of animals when slaughtered can lead to a reduction of food waste.