Hunger and
Food Waste
Image depicting Hunger and Food Waste
There's enough food to feed everyone on the planet

The problem is that nearly one-third of all food produced globally each year is lost or wasted. In low-income countries, most food loss occurs during production, while in developed countries most food is wasted after it’s purchased.


$1 trillion of food is lost or wasted every year —  enough to feed more than twice the number of hungry people

20 lbs

The average American wastes about 20 pounds of food each month


Farmers in Africa lose about 40% of all the food they harvest due to insects, pests and mold

8 Facts to Know About Food Waste and Hunger

Fact One

Approximately $1 trillion of food is lost or wasted every year — accounting for roughly one-third of the world’s food. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), reversing this trend would preserve enough food to feed 2 billion people . That’s more than twice the number of undernourished people across the globe.

Source: 8 Facts to Know About Food Waste and Hunger Photo: FAO/Alessandra Benedetti

Fact Two

Consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa each year.

Source: 8 Facts to Know About Food Waste and Hunger Photo: WFP/Simon Pierre Diouf

Fact Three

If wasted food were a country, it would be the third largest producer of carbon dioxide in the world, after the U.S. and China.

Source: 8 Facts to Know About Food Waste and Hunger Photo: iStock

Fact Four

Roughly 30 to 40 percent of the food supply in the U.S. is wasted, which works out to more than 20 pounds of food per person per month.

Source: 8 Facts to Know About Food Waste and Hunger Photo: NYTimes/Jake Naughton

Fact Five

The amount of post-harvest food loss in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2011 cost $4 billion, surpassing what the region received in food assistance that year.

Source: 8 Facts to Know About Food Waste and Hunger Photo: WFP/ Jonathan Eng

Fact Six

Cutting global food waste in half by 2030 is one of the U.N.’s top priorities. In fact, it’s one of organization’s 17 sustainable development goals.

Source: 8 Facts to Know About Food Waste and Hunger Photo: WFP/Charles Hatch Barnwell

Fact Seven

WFP's Zero Post-Harvest Losses project sells low-cost, locally produced grain silos to farmers and provides them with training on post-harvest crop management in five key areas: harvesting, drying, threshing, solarization and storage.

Source: 8 Facts to Know About Food Waste and Hunger Photo: WFP/Davinah Nabirye

Fact Eight

WFP tackles food waste by boosting access to local markets. This includes sourcing its school meals with locally grown crops, working with communities to build better roads and storage facilities and, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, providing cargo bikes to mostly female farmers to increase their access to markets.

Source: 8 Facts to Know About Food Waste and Hunger Photo: WFP/Nyani Quarmyne

So...what is WFP doing about it?

Photo: WFP
Food Storage

Around the world, subsistence farmers can lose nearly half of their harvest simply because they don’t have access to modern storage equipment. WFP is changing that with silos and air-tight bags.

Photo: WFP/Fares Khoailed

The typical WFP food ration includes long-lasting staples like flour, dried beans, salt and cooking oil – all packaged in sturdy containers. This ensures the items won’t spoil for weeks or months, so nothing gets thrown away.

Photo: WFP/Mustapha Bribi

Hydroponics, hermetic containers, recovery supply chains and virtual farmers markets. These are just a few of the innovations that allow communities to grow, sell and store food in impossible places.


The U.S. Farm Bill authorizes several critical programs that take American-grown crops like rice, corn, wheat and soy beans and distribute them to vulnerable people in need. It’s just one of the many policies we work on to end hunger.

I want to help save lives.

Ending Food Waste & Solving Hunger

Photo: WFP/Badre Bahaji Stop Food Waste. Start Making Profit.

In Malawi, farmers have learned how to properly store their grains and sell them for a profit. The money now pays for things like school fees, soap and livestock.

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Photo: WFP/Laura Melo In Burundi, What Do Farmers and Food Waste Have in Common?

90 percent of Burundi's population is entirely dependent on agriculture, yet the country doesn't produce nearly enough food to feed everyone. Cutting food loss can help.

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Photo: iStock Ugly Veggies Destined for the Dump Now Feed Thousands of Kenyan Students

Vegetables that were previously thrown away purely for their looks are being transformed into nutritious school meals in Kenya.

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Photo: WFP/Jonathan Eng Less Food Waste Means More Money for Rwanda Farmers

Around 70% of Rwandans work in the agricultural sector, yet they lose vast amounts of their harvest before it ever reaches their plates or markets.

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Photo: WFP/Mariana Rocha These School Meals in Brazil Reduce Food Waste by Using Would-Be-Trash Vegetables

New recipes are changing the way Brazil's school kitchens operate. Rather than being thrown away, beetroot leaves, carrot tops and pumpkin peels give more nutrients and flavor to dishes.

Read more +
Photo: WFP/Alexis Masciarelli It's in the Bag! This Simple Storage System Is Slashing Food Loss.

Farmers in Sudan lose up to 40% of their crops every year. Hermetic bags cost just $2 and reduce loss to less than 2%.

Read more +

Hacking Hunger – Episode 20: The Forgotten Food Waste Crisis

In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, farmers can expect to lose nearly half of their harvest before it even leaves the farm. We talked to Brett Rierson, the head of WFP’s Global Post-Harvest Knowledge & Operations Center, about why and how “tupperware for crops” could change the way the world’s small-scale farmers do business.

View all podcasts

Cutting Food Loss From 40% to 2%

But there is more to be done. If food waste were a country, it would be
the third largest producer of carbon dioxide in the world
If we could recover all the food we waste, we could feed
every hungry person on the planet, twice over .
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