Throwing away less food

If households and retailers in the EU could cut the amount of food they waste by 40% by 2020, that would save €123 per person per year. Over the whole EU, that makes €75.5bn. It would mean that less agricultural land is needed: an area the size of Belgium.

“The savings are largely in dairy products and meat, and in fruit and vegetables, where there are relatively large amounts of waste,” says LEI researcher Martine Rutten. “The land that is freed up can be used for cultivating crops for export or for biofuels.” She has been investigating this for the European Commission. It also turns out that more gains can be made if European households start eating more healthily. The amount of agricultural land saved could then be as much as three times the size of Belgium. What does this mean for the consumer? Rutten replies, “It’s about getting consumers to be more aware of their lifestyle and doing both: wasting less and eating more healthily.”

More about LEI Wageningen UR themes:
Sustainable food clusters