UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2021

Food waste reduction offers multi-faceted wins for people and planet, improving food security, addressing climate change, saving money and reducing pressures on land, water, biodiversity and waste management systems. Yet this potential has until now been woefully under-exploited. This potential may have been overlooked because the true scale of food waste and its impacts have not been well understood. Global estimates of food waste have relied on extrapolation of data from a small number of countries, often using old data. Few governments have robust data on food waste to make the case to act and prioritize their efforts. Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 (SDG 12.3) captures a commitment to halve food waste at the retail and consumer level and to reduce food loss across supply chains. This Food Waste Index Report aims to advance progress on SDG 12.3 in two ways:

• Firstly, it presents the most comprehensive food waste data collection, analysis and modelling to date, generating a new estimate of global food waste. Country-level food waste estimates have been calculated, and while confidence intervals for estimates vary by region and by sector, they offer new insight into the scale of the problem and into the substantial prevention potential in low-, middle- and high-income countries.

• Secondly, this report publishes a methodology for countries to measure food waste, at household, food service and retail level, in order to track national progress towards 2030 and to report on SDG 12.3. Countries using this methodology will generate strong evidence to guide a national strategy on food waste prevention, food waste estimates that are sufficiently sensitive to pick up changes in food waste over two- or four-year intervals, and that enables meaningful comparisons among countries globally.

In complement to the Food Loss Index, developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Food Waste Index covers the later stages of food’s journey – food waste – occurring at household, food service and retail level.

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