The extent of food waste generation across EU-27: different calculation methods and the reliability of their results

Waste Manag Res. 2014 Aug;32(8):683-94. doi: 10.1177/0734242X14545374.


The reduction of food waste is seen as an important societal issue with considerable ethical, ecological and economic implications. The European Commission aims at cutting down food waste to one-half by 2020. However, implementing effective prevention measures requires knowledge of the reasons and the scale of food waste generation along the food supply chain. The available data basis for Europe is very heterogeneous and doubts about its reliability are legitimate. This mini-review gives an overview of available data on food waste generation in EU-27 and discusses their reliability against the results of own model calculations. These calculations are based on a methodology developed on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and provide data on food waste generation for each of the EU-27 member states, broken down to the individual stages of the food chain and differentiated by product groups. The analysis shows that the results differ significantly, depending on the data sources chosen and the assumptions made. Further research is much needed in order to improve the data stock, which builds the basis for the monitoring and management of food waste.

Keywords: EU-27; Food waste; data availability; data reliability; food chain; model calculations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Europe
  • European Union
  • Food Supply / statistics & numerical data*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Refuse Disposal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Waste Management / statistics & numerical data