Mar 27, 2024 - World

Over 1 billion meals a day squandered worldwide in 2022: UN report

Illustration of the world in the shape of an apple with a bite taken out.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Over one billion meals a day were wasted globally across households in 2022, per a UN report released Wednesday, amounting to nearly one fifth of total food that year.

The big picture: The staggering amount of waste comes as global food insecurity and the climate crisis plague communities around the world.

  • Hunger impacts up to 783 million people each year, according to the UN Environment Program's Food Waste Index Report, which provides global food waste estimates.
  • "Food waste is a global tragedy. Millions will go hungry today as food is wasted across the world," UN Environment Program executive director Inger Andersen said in a statement Wednesday.

By the numbers: In 2022, the world generated 1.05 billion tons of food waste, 60% of which occurred at the household level, per the report.

  • Food services made up 28% of total food waste, while retail accounted for 12%.

Between the lines: Food waste is also a vital part of the conversation on reducing environmental harm.

  • It accounts for 8 to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, per the UN report.

What they're saying: Andersen called unnecessary food waste "a major development issue ... causing substantial costs to the climate and nature."

  • Andersen said that if countries prioritize "this issue, they can significantly reverse food loss and waste, reduce climate impacts and economic losses, and accelerate progress on global goals."

Zoom in: There are multiple ways to prevent food waste at home, such as planning meals before grocery shopping and only buying the ingredients you need, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

  • The EPA also advises people to properly store their fresh produce so that they can last longer.

Go deeper: America's staggering food waste problem

Go deeper