One of the world’s largest problems at the moment is the continued increase in food waste. Currently, one-third of the food produced worldwide ends up in a landfill, where it will eventually increase air pollution.
Wasting food is not only a disservice to those who suffer from hunger, but it also harms every inch of the globe as the increased food waste accelerates climate change.
While some countries have taken action to reduce food waste, most still have a long way to go.
Check out this list to learn about the twenty-eight countries that produce the most food waste (based on pounds of food waste per person).
Table of Contents
- The Countries That Produce the Most Food Waste in the World
- 1. Nigeria: 416.67 lbs. (189 kg)
- 2. Greece: 313.05 lbs. (142 kg)
- 3. Iraq: 264.55 lbs. (120 kg)
- 4. Saudi Arabi: 231.48 lbs. (105 kg)
- 5. Australia: 224.87 lbs. (102 kg)
- 6. Kenya: 218.25 lbs. (99 kg)
- 7. Mexico: 207.23 lbs. (94 kg)
- 8. Ethiopia: 202.82 lbs. (92 kg)
- 9. Malaysia: 200.62 lbs. (91 kg)
- 10. France: 187.39 lbs. (85 kg)
- 11. Canada: 174.16 lbs. (79 kg)
- 12. Indonesia: 169.75 lbs. (77 kg)
- 13. United Kingdom: 169.75 lbs. (77 kg)
- 14. Spain: 169.75 lbs. (77 kg)
- 15. Vietnam: 167.55 lbs. (76 kg)
- 16. Germany: 165.34 lbs. (75 kg)
- 17. Pakistan: 163.14 lbs. (74 kg)
- 18. Colombia: 154.32 lbs. (70 kg)
- 19. Italy: 147.71 lbs. (67 kg)
- 20. Bangladesh: 143.30 lbs. (65 kg)
- 21. China: 141.09 lbs. (64 kg)
- 22. Japan: 141.09 lbs. (64 kg)
- 23. Brazil: 132.27 lbs. (60 kg)
- 24. United States: 130.07 lbs. (59 kg)
- 25. Poland: 123.45 lbs. (56 kg)
- 26. India: 110.23 lbs. (50 kg)
- 27. South Africa: 88.18 lbs. (40 kg)
- 28. Russia: 72.75 lbs. (33 kg)
The Countries That Produce the Most Food Waste in the World
|Number||Country||Food waste (lbs)||Food waste (kg)|
1. Nigeria: 416.67 lbs. (189 kg)
Nigeria is currently the lead producer of food waste in the world, which is extremely disheartening considering the country’s high poverty rate.
At the moment, the country produces more than forty million tons of food waste each year, and this number is only expected to rise.
The sad fact is that there are nearly one hundred million citizens in Nigeria who live on nothing more than a single dollar a day while the wealthy stock their homes with more food than they can consume.
A recent report shows that wealthy households throw away at least 17% of their food, while poor citizens starve on the streets.
2. Greece: 313.05 lbs. (142 kg)
Greece ranks as the number one country in Europe when it comes to food waste, and this is saying something considering the continent’s bad rep for wasting food.
So much so that the country more than doubles the world average for food waste.
Records show that citizens of Greece waste food at least twice a month with a majority of the wasted items being some type of fruit, vegetable, bread, pasta, or meat.
This is not only a waste of food but a waste of the materials and labor needed to produce them.
3. Iraq: 264.55 lbs. (120 kg)
With major cities reporting garbage collections full of more than fifty percent food waste, it is no wonder that Iraq is viewed as one of the lead producers of food waste in the world.
This news is even more shocking considering the economic crisis the country currently faces.
More than four pounds of food waste are produced every day in Iraq’s Kurdistan region alone, and the number is only growing with each passing year.
There is more waste than the country knows what to do with, and current waste management practices are hazardous to the public.
4. Saudi Arabi: 231.48 lbs. (105 kg)
While efforts are being made to reduce the production of food waste, there is no denying that Saudi Arabia is still one of the leading producers of food waste in the world.
In fact, more than thirty percent of the country’s current waste production is from food products.
Taking a closer look at this breakdown, you’ll see that every citizen in the country is responsible for more than four hundred pounds of food waste a year.
The number one food product wasted is flour, reaching nearly one million tons of waste each year and the second-highest is poultry at more than 900,000 tons.
5. Australia: 224.87 lbs. (102 kg)
With households being the lead contributor, Australia has become one of the countries that produce the most food waste in the world.
A recent study shows that the country is responsible for producing nearly eight million tons of food each year, and a majority of it is still edible when it gets tossed away.
Not only does this cost the economy nearly forty billion dollars a year, but it is also a slap in the face to the many citizens living in poverty without a sustainable amount of food.
Luckily, Stop Food Waste Australia is a new plan that has been set in motion to teach citizens the severity of the issue.
6. Kenya: 218.25 lbs. (99 kg)
With new plans put into place to reduce food waste, Kenya hopes that someday they will be taken off the list as one of the lead contributors of food waste in the world.
The major reason that the country sees so much food waste is because of the hot climate.
Unfortunately, many farmers do not have the proper cooling facilities to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for long periods of time.
However, investments have recently been made to provide local farmers with this equipment and food waste numbers are already decreasing.
7. Mexico: 207.23 lbs. (94 kg)
With help from the World Bank, Mexico is fighting to change their title as one of the lead producers of food waste in the world, but they still have a long way to go.
At the moment, more than one-third of all food produced in the country is wasted.
The current plan is to inform citizens about the issues that come with food waste while also resourcing unwanted goods to those in desperate need.
This will not only help citizens struggling with poverty but will help the country become more sustainable overall.
8. Ethiopia: 202.82 lbs. (92 kg)
With food waste occurring on all ends, it is no wonder that Ethiopia is one of the countries that produce the most food waste in the world.
Not only does the country see high levels of household food waste, but it can also be seen at the harvesting, transportation, and market levels.
A study shows that one of the country’s largest issues is its inability to preserve more sensitive produce items. Because of this, nearly half of items like tomatoes, mangos, and papayas don’t even make it to the hands of the consumer.
9. Malaysia: 200.62 lbs. (91 kg)
Malaysia is currently responsible for throwing away nearly twenty thousand tons of food products each and every day.
To make matters worse, this drastic number equates to more than fifty percent of the country’s waste overall. Not to mention the fact that a majority of the food that is thrown away is still edible at the time of disposal.
Plus, these numbers don’t even account for festival seasons when food waste spikes another fifteen to twenty percent on a daily basis.
10. France: 187.39 lbs. (85 kg)
In 2016, France established a law to limit food waste, but it still manages to be one of the leading countries for food waste in the world.
While this law has stopped supermarkets from disposing of unwanted products, it doesn’t change the issue of household food waste.
Nonetheless, this new law is a stride in the right direction and many countries are looking to follow suit.
Evidence has shown that this new law has not only reduced food waste but has increased the percentage of products donated to citizens in need.
11. Canada: 174.16 lbs. (79 kg)
More than half of the food produced in Canada is wasted, and of that number, a majority of the food is still edible when it gets thrown away.
At the moment, the country is responsible for wasting more than five million tons of food in the production process alone.
This number is even more astronomical than the nearly three million tons of food wasted once it has been bought by the consumer.
This breaks down to almost two thousand dollars worth of food per household with an overall yearly loss exceeding fifty billion.
12. Indonesia: 169.75 lbs. (77 kg)
It comes as a surprise that Indonesia is one of the lead producers of food waste in the world when you consider the fact that it is also one of the main countries suffering from starvation.
In fact, the tons of food that are wasted in Indonesia alone is enough to solve the country’s hunger conflict.
Unfortunately, much of the food waste the country sees is due to the improper storing and transporting of goods.
Most of the waste occurs at this level because of unfavorable conditions, but the rest can be seen at the consumer level.
13. United Kingdom: 169.75 lbs. (77 kg)
With a goal to cut food waste in half by 2030, the United Kingdom still has a long way to go if they want to be knocked off the list of greatest producers of food waste in the world.
While the country has been seeing reductions in food waste each year, it still produces about ten million tons of food waste on a yearly scale.
A majority of this food waste can be seen on the household scale with a yearly average of nearly seven million tons. The remainder of this food waste is the result of manufacturing mistakes and over-prepping at restaurants.
14. Spain: 169.75 lbs. (77 kg)
Similar to the United Kingdom, Spain created a goal to cut food waste by 2030 but its numbers are only continuing to grow with each passing year.
Currently, the country is responsible for nearly fifty million tons of food waste each year, and more than eighty percent of the food hasn’t even been cooked when it’s thrown away.
It is argued that this rise in waste is a direct result of recently high temperatures, but the two issues go hand and hand.
An increase in food waste will contribute to climate change so it is important to find ways to combat food waste regardless of the heat.
15. Vietnam: 167.55 lbs. (76 kg)
More than half a million citizens in Vietnam are suffering from hunger, so it is that much more shocking that the country is one of the lead contributors to food waste around the globe.
A recent survey discovered that nearly ninety percent of households waste at least two meals per week.
Although culturally it is a sign of courtesy to make more food than is needed for a meal, it has put Vietnam in a very hard spot.
More than half of the overall waste produced by the country is food products and a majority of these products are still edible when they are thrown away.
16. Germany: 165.34 lbs. (75 kg)
A new plan that focuses on both producers and consumers was recently set into motion, but it is still too soon to tell the impact it is having on Germany’s drastic food waste percentages.
At the moment, the country is responsible for contributing hundreds of tons of food waste each year. These unfortunate numbers break down to more than one hundred pounds of food waste per person per year.
The law plans to encourage producers to package products in smaller sizes to avoid potential waste and inform consumers about the severity of food waste.
17. Pakistan: 163.14 lbs. (74 kg)
While extreme weather conditions make Pakistan more susceptible to food waste, the numbers produced by the country are outrageous.
At the moment, nearly half of all of the food produced in the country is wasted at either the producer or the consumer’s hand.
This equates to almost forty million tons of food wasted each year and could easily supply some of the country’s largest cities with three solid meals a day.
Unfortunately, a majority of this waste occurs at either the transportation level or during large ceremonies when buffet-style feasts make it easy to overfill your plate.
18. Colombia: 154.32 lbs. (70 kg)
With more people staying indoors during the pandemic, Colombia is facing its worst food waste records to date.
This is because people are stocking their homes with more perishable food than they can eat and are inevitably having to throw a majority of it away.
Nearly ten million tons of food waste are produced by the country every year, and this number is steadily growing over time.
This news is even more shocking considering the fact that more than fifty percent of Colombia’s citizens face some level of food insecurity.
19. Italy: 147.71 lbs. (67 kg)
In 2016, Italy passed a law to inform its citizens about food waste and make the process of donating unwanted food products possible for all.
While it is still too early to determine the full effects of this law, the country is definitely taking a step in the right direction.
Previous records were showing that each household in the country was contributing more than three hundred pounds of food waste each year, but this number has already started decreasing.
In fact, a recent study shows that nearly half of the country’s households have reduced food waste.
20. Bangladesh: 143.30 lbs. (65 kg)
Considering the level of poverty in Bangladesh, it is astonishing the see the level of food waste there in comparison to wealthier countries.
More than ten billion tons of food are wasted in the country every year, and much of this food is still edible at the time of its disposal.
When considering the country’s population, this breaks down to be more than one hundred fifty pounds of food waste per person each year.
To make matters worse, a good portion of the country’s citizens never see this food and continue to suffer from hunger.
21. China: 141.09 lbs. (64 kg)
As of 2021, a law was passed in China to lower food waste rates caused by unethical competition and gluttonous diners.
This law has officially banned all competitive eating events, binge-eating videos, and will actually fine patrons who leave too much food on their plate when dining.
This comes after statistics reveal that the country had been wasting more than twenty million tons of food at the consumer level just in big cities alone.
The country is famed for its binge-eating videos and competitions, so this is a step in the right direction.
22. Japan: 141.09 lbs. (64 kg)
Japan has a long way to go on its journey to fighting food waste, but its most recent technology might be the next best thing.
Currently, the country is responsible for nearly thirty million tons of food waste each year, and more than six million tons are still edible at the time of disposal.
However, the country has rolled out a new app called TABETE which translates to “please eat” and motivates citizens to produce less food waste.
This app allows fellow citizens to post food that would otherwise go to waste and connect these items to people who may be in need.
23. Brazil: 132.27 lbs. (60 kg)
While there are plenty of people in the country in desperate need of food, Brazil still manages to be one of the lead contributors to food waste across the globe.
The unfortunate fact is that large companies are not willing to donate excess food to charities, so instead of food being given to those who need it, it gets thrown away.
Part of this lack of willingness is based on corporations’ lack of trust for small-time charities, but the country has put a new plan in motion to help solve this problem.
A new website called Connecting Food has created a safe place for big businesses to interact with reputable charities, but data on its success is not available as of yet.
24. United States: 130.07 lbs. (59 kg)
With wasted food the number one thing in the country’s many landfills, it is clear that the United States has a lot of work to do in regard to reducing its food waste numbers.
At the moment, the country is responsible for more than one hundred billion pounds of food waste each year.
This means that nearly forty percent of all food produced in the country is never touched before it makes its way to the landfill.
This is caused by forgotten food items in the household, crops left to wilt in the fields, manufacturer errors, and produce simply not meeting proper “standards.”
25. Poland: 123.45 lbs. (56 kg)
With more than one million people in Poland living in poverty, it comes an unfortunate shock that the country is considered one of the lead contributors to food waste across the globe.
To make matters worse, the economic downfall has increased the number of people in poverty while somehow increasing the number of food waste.
While there are some groups put into place to try to combat these problems like the “Too Good To Go” application and Caritas Charity Pantry, the country has a long battle ahead.
Even with the five thousand tons of food donated to those in need, the country still faces high numbers in both food waste and poverty.
26. India: 110.23 lbs. (50 kg)
While India is one of the countries with a lower food waste percentage on the continent, its numbers don’t look so good on a larger scale.
Before food products even reach the shelves for consumers, the country sees a forty percent food waste rate due to insufficient harvesting, transporting, and storing practices.
But food waste is not limited to the producer, and household waste makes numbers that much more drastic.
An unfortunate statistic shows that even the food products that reach the consumer are often tossed away with a rate of more than one hundred pounds of food waste per person each year.
27. South Africa: 88.18 lbs. (40 kg)
With the country suffering drastically from both drought and hunger, it is a saddening truth that South Africa is considered one of the countries that produce the most food waste in the world.
Furthermore, the tons of food wasted each year would be enough to feed nearly all of the country’s citizens that are living in poverty.
Aware of this issue, the country has put various laws into place in an attempt to resolve this issue but the challenge at hand is getting the citizens on board.
Most citizens don’t realize the severity of the issue and need to be taught better practices in order for the country to truly become more sustainable.
28. Russia: 72.75 lbs. (33 kg)
With more and more landfills filling up with food waste each year, Russia needs to quickly create a game plan if it wants to combat its food waste dilemma.
The country is currently toying with the idea of using food waste in feed production, but it has proven to be an untimely solution.
In the meantime, the country is responsible for nearly twenty million tons of food waste each year and almost all of it ends up in landfills where it turns to pollutants.
While this number is considered to be low in regards to other European countries, the lack of areas to place this food waste has become a safety hazard.