International Day of Awareness of Food Losses and Waste

Every year, around 12 million tonnes of food are thrown away in Germany. An unimaginably large number. And one thing is clear: every tomato that is disposed of, every apple that is thrown away, every milk that has gone bad, every portion of food of which half went back would have been better eaten.

In the International Year of Fruit and Vegetables 2021, we take a look at these products. Fruits and vegetables are highly perishable, many of the products are highly sensitive, so they account for a very high proportion of food waste in grocery stores and also in private households. In food retailing, which accounts for only a small share of food waste in relation to the entire food value chain, fruit and vegetables account for almost half of the waste. In 2015, this was around 330,000 tonnes. In private households, 34 per cent of the food disposed of is fruit and vegetables, and in absolute figures around 25 kilograms per capita per year. In comparison, “only” around 53,000 tonnes of meat and sausage are thrown away in the retail sector, and around 2.5 kilogrammes per capita and year in households. This means that in terms of volume, fruit and vegetable waste is much more significant.

But a look at the carbon footprint shows that the impact on our climate from discarded meat is much greater than from discarded fruit and vegetables: the 53,000 tonnes of meat and meat products disposed of in the retail sector produced about 500,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year. In comparison, the approximately 200,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases for the fruit and vegetables disposed of are 2.5 times less.

Conclusion: Of course, it is important to reduce food waste in general. Neither fruit and vegetables nor meat, sausage, milk and dairy products or other food should be thrown away. It is important to reduce food losses and waste as much as possible at all stages of the value chain. Nevertheless, measures should be implemented as a matter of priority where negative environmental or social impacts are highest. This was also shown in a study by corsus and Ökopol for the German Federal Environment Agency. And most importantly: food and nutrition must be more appreciated!

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