How Much Food Does America Waste Compared to other Countries?

How much food does the world waste?  

  • Britz states”…around 90 million tons of food is wasted annually which correspond to 12% of the total food production” (1).
  • UNEP claims “…about one-third of all food produced worldwide, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems” (UNEP).
  • UNEP states “Every year, consumers in industrialized countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (222 million vs. 230 million tons)” (UNEP).
  • UNEP continues “The amount of food lost and wasted every year is equal to more than half of the world’s annual cereals crops (2.3 billion tons in 2009/10)” (UNEP)
  • Chainey states “one-third of all food produced for human consumption in the world (around 1.3 billion tons) is lost or wasted. This includes 45% of all fruit and vegetables, 35% of fish and seafood, 30% of cereals, 20% of dairy products and 20% of meat” (Chainey).

America wastes an enormous amount of food, seeing such big numbers really puts how much we waste into context. This shows that the small amount of leftovers that we think nothing about is actually pilling up and causing harm. 

How much food does America waste? 

  • Ferdman states “In 2012, the most recent year for which estimates are available, Americans threw out roughly 35 million tons of food, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s almost 20 percent more food than the United States tossed out in 2000, 50 percent more than in 1990, and nearly three times what Americans discarded in 1960…” (Ferdman).
  • Ferdman states “In 1980, food waste accounted for less than 10 percent of total waste; today, it makes up well over a fifth of the country’s garbage” (Ferdman).
  • Ferdman states” Americans, as it is, now throw out more food than plastic, paper, metal, or glass—and by a long shot” (Ferdman).
  • Specht states “A full 40 percent of the U.S. food supply isn’t used” (Specht).
  • Oliver states “American throw away $165 billion dollars worth of food every year” (Oliver).
  • Oliver states “America’s wasted food could fill 730 football stadiums per year” (Oliver).

These statistics emphasize that the United States’s reputation as a “throw away country” is still alive and true. Judging from these quotes, American’s are going to have to start learning how to buy the right amount of food for themselves and there families so this useless wasting can stop. It isn’t as casual now to throw away leftovers when everyone in America is doing it. 

How does America compare to other countries? 

  • Ferdman states ” This country is one of the worst offenders: a 2012 paper by the Natural Resources Defense Council estimated that as much as 40 percent of America’s food supply ends up in a dumpster” (Ferdman).
  • Specht states “it’s safe to say that the U.S. wastes more food than any other country. Per capita food waste for North American consumers is larger than that of any other region, and ten times the amount wasted by those in sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia” (Specht).

This data should be enough to make everyone stop wasting food. When America is compared to other suffering countries it makes us look horrible and selfish. Americans need to understand that the food we waste can be used to feed hungry nations and help our own food insecure families.