7 shocking figures from Wrap’s food waste report

The charity organisation estimates that 3.6m tonnes of food produced for human consumption is either wasted or diverted for other usage.

25 July 2019
farmingfood wastestatistics

  • Wrap estimates that 1.6m tonnes of food waste is created by primary production (farming and harvesting) in the UK a year, the equivalent of 3% of all food production. If sold, it would have a market value of around £650m.
  • A further 2m tonnes of food is classified as surplus (intended for human consumption but instead used for purposes such as livestock feed or redistributed to charities). This is equivalent to 4% of production and valued at more than £500m.
  • Food waste and surplus combined is 3.6m tonnes or 7% of production, with a total value of around £1.15bn.
  • More than 50% of waste consists of sugar beet, potatoes and carrots. The top 10 products combined account for 80% of the total weight of wasted food.
  • Horticultural crops are the most wasted product type (54%), followed by cereals (30%), livestock (8%) and milk (8%).
  • However, if waste is measured as a percentage of total crop production, lettuces are the most disposed of item – 25% of all lettuce is chucked away, compared to 0.8% of milk. Lettuce's abysmal ratio is equalled by brussels sprouts, followed by onions (17.3%), peas (17%), parsnips and carrots (both 15.7%)
  • The 1.6m tonnes of food waste is insignificant compared to the 7.1m tonnes that comes from households. Manufacturing produces slightly more at 1.9m tonnes and hospitality and foodservice less at 1m.


“This is the most detailed study of food surplus and waste in primary production undertaken for the UK, and a key finding has been the range of waste across all food categories,” said Peter Maddox, director of Wrap. “This tells us is there is huge potential to reduce the amount of surplus and waste by promoting best practice, and that’s where our work is now focussed. We want to increase redistribution of surplus food as has happened across the retail sector, and I am pleased this will now be much easier through the Food Surplus Network.”

Wrap’s research is based on a review of available literature and 2017 data.

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