EU Science Hub

Brief on food waste in the European Union


This brief on food waste one out of a series of Bioeconomy Knowledge Centre briefs which intend to provide independent evidence for EU policy in this field. The following are the key results:

1. According to a recent analysis, 129 Mt of food waste were generated in the EU in 2011. This represents 20% of the food produced. Vegetables, fruit and cereals are the food groups that produce the largest amount of food waste.

2. Most food waste is generated during the consumption stage (46%), almost as much as the amounts generated during the primary production (25%) and processing and manufacturing stages (24%) combined. Distribution and retail account for a very small fraction of the food waste generated in the food supply chain.

3. The food waste generated at the processing stage has a high valorisation potential, as the food waste streams are present in large, concentrated and homogeneous quantities. Food waste can be transformed into a range of added-value products through several valorisation pathways. The technological and economic feasibility and the environmental impacts of these products need to be