European project FUSIONS releases EU-28 estimates of food waste levels and a Food Waste Quantification Manual

Newsletter 19 July 2024

European project FUSIONS releases EU-28 estimates of food waste levels and a Food Waste Quantification Manual

The European-funded food waste prevention project, FUSIONS, publishes today updated food waste estimates for the EU-28 and a Food Waste Quantification Manual to support EU Member States (MS) in establishing more reliable monitoring and reporting of national food waste data at each stage in the food supply chain. This research has shown that there are still some major data gaps preventing more comprehensive and reliable assessments of food waste levels in the EU. The Food Waste Quantification Manual can be used as a reference by researchers and Member State authorities to develop coherent methods for acquiring food waste data in order to fill in data gaps more effectively. The Manual has been produced through an extensive consultation process with MS experts and stakeholders and has benefitted from the practical experience of pilot programmes carried out in six EU MS[1] and Norway. 
EU-28 produces about 88 million tonnes of food waste per year[2], amounting to an estimated 143 billion euros
The FUSIONS food waste estimates include both edible food and inedible parts (i.e. orange peels) associated with food, as described by the FUSIONS definitional framework[3]. The sector contributing the most to EU food waste is households (47 million tonnes), with 70% of EU food waste arising at household, foodservice and retail. These sectors are relevant to UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 which targets a 50% reduction in food waste at the retail and consumer levels, in addition to reducing food losses along production and supply chains by 2030. The production and processing sectors contribute to the remaining 30% of EU food waste.
The total estimate equates to 173 kilograms of food waste per person in the EU-28. As the total amounts of food produced in EU for 2011 were around 865 kg/person[4], this would mean that the equivalent of 20% of the total food produced ends up as food waste. There is a moderately high uncertainty around this food waste estimate; the approximate 95% confidence interval is ±14 million tonnes (or ±16%). The results for the production and processing sectors in particular are likely to change when more studies become available.
Food Waste Quantification Manual: facilitating reliable food waste data and reporting in EU-28
The relatively high uncertainty of the EU food waste estimate is due to the fact that many data gaps still exist, despite the improved availability and quality of national food waste data. As data of sufficient quality only exist for up to a quarter of EU Member States, the process of scaling up the existing food waste data to the whole EU-28 contains significant uncertainty. In order to assess the EU's progress towards SDG 12.3, it will be necessary for Member States to measure food waste levels on a regular basis, according to consistent and harmonized definitions and methodology.
The FUSIONS Food Waste Quantification Manual can assist Member States in monitoring food waste amounts as well as trends over time. Such measurement is critical to support efforts to reduce and prevent food waste at national and EU levels. This FUSIONS Quantification Manual includes practical guidelines which Member State authorities can apply to standardise quantification approaches at each stage of the food supply chain. A harmonised approach for food waste quantification, as called for in the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy[5] will allow better prioritisation and targeting of prevention efforts, as well as the tracking of progress in food waste reduction over time and will facilitate data sharing across Europe.
These guidelines cover three main activities:
  • Quantifying food waste in each sector (i.e. stage) of the food chain;
  • Combining sectorial quantifications by using a common framework at the national level; and,
  • Reporting the results of the national food waste quantification study at the national level in a consistent and comparable manner.
This Manual was developed in close collaboration with Member State experts and stakeholders, including the team developing the Global Food Loss & Waste Protocol Accounting and Reporting Standard (FLW Protocol, 2015).[6]
All reports can be downloaded at  
Food is used to cover both food & drink.
According to the FUSIONS definition the term food waste is referring to a fraction of food and inedible parts removed from the food supply chain going to recovery or disposal (incl. composting). It should be noted that in the equivalent of 20% of the total food produced that ends up as food waste comprises inedible parts of food.
FUSIONS (Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising Waste Prevention Strategies) is working towards achieving a more resource efficient Europe by significantly reducing food waste. The project which runs for 4 years, from August 2012 to July 2016, has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 311972 and brings together 21 partners from across Europe under the coordination of Wageningen University & Research. Its overall objective is to contribute to the harmonisation of food waste monitoring and the development of food waste related policy for EU-28. The External Executive Advisory Board includes representatives from EC DG Environment, DG SANTE, DG AGRI, FoodDrinkEurope, UNEP, OECD, and WWF.
For further information contact: 

SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, leading on FUSIONS Quantification Work Package
Karin Östergren:    

Wageningen University & Research, Coordinator to FUSIONS
Toine Timmermans:   

You can follow FUSIONS on Facebook (EU FUSIONS) and Twitter (@EU_FUSIONS).
[1] Sweden, Ireland, Belgium (Flanders), Netherlands, UK, Slovakia
[2] The FUSIONS estimates are based on and aligned to 2012 data.
[5] European Commission, 2015. Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy
[6] FLW Protocol, 2015. FLW Protocol Accounting and Reporting Standard (FLW Standard) – DRAFT as of March 20, 2015

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