What is food waste?

Food waste is simply food intended for human consumption, but ultimately not used for that purpose. Think of some residue of boiled rice or an apple thrown away (the disposal of peels and apple cores is organic waste and not food waste).

Food waste begins early on in the chain: 39% of all food waste occurs at the producer’s and so never reaches the supermarket or catering industry. By "producer" we mean all farmers, growers, factories, product vendors and brokers. Products are discarded by the producer because of  harvest losses, surpluses or a different size or appearance. Customers want the most perfect looking products.  Supermarkets are responsible for about 5% of all food waste. The causes are, for example, estimates of supply and demand (too many products purchased) or because the supermarket wants to keep its quality requirements high. Consumers often leave that small zucchini or cauliflower with a spot on the shelf.

Even in the catering industry, a lot of food is still being discarded. About 14% of all food waste takes place in catering facilities (restaurants, catering, hotels, etc.). This is often due to excessive portions, strict food safety requirements, bad purchasing or simply a lack of creativity to use leftover products in dishes. Most food is wasted by home consumers: about 42% of all food waste! Households waste about 105 kg of useful food per year.


Why is attention to food waste important?

Wasting unnecessary food is a waste of the environment and lightens your wallet. Because it always concerns smaller portions, you can quickly underestimate food waste. Food production and consumption in the EU is estimated to generate 20% to 30% of Europe’s environmental impact, as calculated by the European Commission. With food you do not only throw away money, but also the energy that has been put into the cultivation, packaging, transport, cooling and preparation of food. With every kilo of food you throw away, you actually throw 1.3 liters of gasoline away (Environment Central, 2012).

Food waste also raises moral questions: why do we throw away so much here, while 1 in 8 people in the world are suffering from the effects of hunger or malnutrition?


What does it look like in practice and / or what are examples of companies?

Bringing back in the food chain edible waste such as deformed vegetables, apps that reduce waste in the chain and restaurants that cook with vegetables and fruit surpluses from supermarkets.


Who are the main initiators?

Public sector, government and civil society (environmental) organisatie sorganizations


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