Almost 1bn tonnes of food is produced, but not eaten, by humans every year, according to the United Nations' (UN) latest Food Waste Index report for 2021.

The report estimates that humans wasted 931m tonnes of food in 2019, with the vast majority (61%) of food waste occurring in the home. A further 26% of food waste comes from the foodservice industry (restaurants, cafés, hotels etc), while supermarkets account for 13% of food waste.

The UN’s latest Food Waste Index report estimates that a massive 17% of all the food produced by farmers all over the world every year is not eaten and ends up being wasted.

That means almost one-fifth of all food produced in the world is wasted each year.


The report found that the average person in high income countries like Ireland wastes almost 80kg of food every year. In lower/middle income countries, the average person wastes just over 90kg of food every year.

Cutting global food waste in two is one of the UN’s sustainable development goals, which will help reduce food poverty and malnutrition, as well as help lower greenhouse gas emissions from food production.

“If food loss and waste were a country, it would be the third biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Food waste also burdens waste management systems and exacerbates food insecurity, making it a major contributor to the three planetary crises of climate change - nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste,” said Inger Andersen, the executive director of the UN’s Environment Programme.

“We need to address the role of consumer behaviour, in all cultural contexts, in reducing food waste. Let us all shop carefully, cook creatively and make wasting food anywhere socially unacceptable while we strive to provide healthy, sustainable diets to all,” she added.