Every year in France, 10 million tonnes of food are wasted, equivalent to around 16 billion euros. These losses have a direct impact on our natural resources. In fact, to produce all this wasted merchandise, entire hectares of arable land and thousands of liters of water have been expended. What’s more, all this unnecessary food production generates considerable greenhouse gas emissions. The waste generated by this waste also adds to the figures. Zoom in on the currentstate of food waste in France.
Key figures for France
When it comes to waste, the entire food chain is concerned. Losses are generated en masse, at every stage of food processing. According to a study by ADEME in France, the breakdown is as follows:
- 32% of food losses occur at the production stage;
- 21% at the processing stage ;
- 14% at the distribution stage ;
- 33% at the consumption stage.
For your information, 33% of food waste is equivalent to around 30 kilos of food per person, over the course of a year.
Involving all players in the food chain
The findings on food waste show that every link in the chain is concerned. In 2013, the French Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry published the Pacte National de Lutte Contre le Gaspillage Alimentaire (National Pact to Combat Food Waste). Its aim is to reduce food waste by 50% by 2025. This pact comprises 11 measures based on the commitment of the main players in the food market.
Good to know:
- agricultural producers ;
- wholesale markets ;
- food processing industries ;
- supermarket distribution ;
- commercial and institutional catering ;
- local authorities.
By definition, since this pact, any food intended for consumption that is thrown away or spoiled is considered food waste. This makes each and every one of us, households and businesses alike, protagonists in this battle.
The impact of waste on our environment
Food waste inevitably costs the environment. Depending on the sector of activity and the type of product, the impact on the environment for all sectors of activity combined in France and over one year would represent a loss of just over 15 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (according toADEME).
Global resources are also impacted by food waste. We note the excess use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers and fuel for transport and fruit and vegetable logistics. Also, the amount of water used to produce meat that is not consumed is a considerable loss, as is the energy spent on processing and distributing livestock.
The impact of food waste on budgets
For France, the per capita and per year cost of food waste is estimated at around 240 euros, or a total of 16 billion euros for the country as a whole (Source: ecologie.gouv.fr website, September 2022).
For a French family of 4, this represents a financial loss of €4,800 over 5 years.
On a national scale, the impact of food waste has repercussions on the purchasing power of the French. For manufacturers, these losses also have a direct impact on their costs (storage costs, resource requirements, etc.) and ultimately on their profitability.
By limiting food waste, French households, businesses and the State could make significant savings.
Proposed and existing improvement solutions
The government is implementing solutions and plans to combat food waste. Article L541-15-4 of the French Environment Code follows on from the Garot Law and stipulates actions to be deployed, such as :
- “food waste prevention;
- the use of unsold produce fit for human consumption, through donation or processing;
- recovery for animal feed ;
- use as compost for agriculture or for energy recovery, in particular by methanization.
The government is also encouraging awareness-raising at all levels of the food chain, and in all sectors of activity. Every individual and every company can play a part in improving this situation, with the aim of reducing the percentage of food waste by 2025.
More and more projects and solutions are emerging to develop and support anti-waste actions. Alternatives are being implemented by organizations, associations and companies of all sizes, including start-ups.
Anti-waste applications are becoming more and more numerous, helping consumers to better manage the way they buy, cook, recycle and so on. For example, they enable users to learn how to create (tasty!) recipes with leftovers from the fridge, find an eco-responsible shop nearby, or create a customized shopping list with a zero-waste objective for a week’s worth of meals. As an added bonus, these apps help households find anti-gaspi products at the best prices, helping them boost their purchasing power.
Food waste is a worldwide problem. In France, numerous ideas and solutions have emerged and are being developed every day, with the aim of reversing the trend by 2025.