Food Waste Set to Increase to 2.1 Billion Tons Annually by 2030

Discarded food at a farmer's market in Vancouver, Canada.

Discarded food at a farmer's market in Vancouver, Canada. Taz/Wikimedia Commons

Each year, 1.6 billion tons of food, worth $1.2 trillion, are lost or wasted. That translates to one third of all food produced. But according to a new report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the problem will get even worse in the coming decades: By 2030, food waste will increase to 2.1 billion tons, worth $1.5 trillion — a one-third increase in 10 years, and the equivalent of 66 tons of food wasted per second.

“The scale of the problem is one that will continue to grow while we’re developing our solutions,” BCG managing director Shalini Unnikrishnan told The Guardian. “As population grows rapidly in certain industrializing parts of the world, like in Asia, consumption is growing very rapidly.”

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, food waste makes up eight percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, while 870 million people around the world go malnourished, making a solution to food waste an important step in fighting climate change and world hunger.

In developing countries, the report found most food waste occurs during the production of food when it’s transported from farms. In developed countries, however, most waste occurs during consumption by both retailers and consumers.

BCG outlined 13 initiatives geared toward achieving the UN’s target of cutting food waste by 2030 in half, including education, better training, policy changes, and local sourcing of food. Overall, the BCG estimates the initiatives would reduce food waste by $700 billion a year.

—Christian Detisch