UNEP's Food Waste Index Report 2024: Implications for the Foodservice Industry

Posted by Claudia Light / 2-Apr-2024

Rotting apples

The recent publication of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 2024 Food Waste Index Report, co-authored by WRAP, has once again highlighted the urgent need for action within the global foodservice sector. Here’s what the foodservice industry needs to know.

The Economic, Environmental and Social Cost of Food Waste

According to the report, approximately $1 trillion worth of food is wasted globally each year. This not only represents a massive economic loss but also contributes to 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, 30% of agricultural land is used to grow food that ultimately ends up being wasted. All of this whilst 783 million people are affected by hunger each year. 

Foodservice's Share in Global Food Waste

The report estimates that in 2022, 1.05 billion tonnes of food were wasted, with the foodservice sector accounting for 28% (290 million tonnes) of this waste. The contribution highlights a critical need for action particularly given, due to incomplete data from the sector,  it is suspected to be an underestimation. So what can foodservice operators do?

Key Takeaways for Foodservice Operators

1. Close the Data Gap

The report indicates that while data coverage has improved, particularly for household waste, there remains a substantial data gap within the foodservice industry in low- and middle-income countries. Implementing scalable solutions like Winnow’s technology can help kitchens globally to better track and reduce their waste, providing a clearer picture of the problem and enhancing accountability.

2. Embrace the Power of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs)

Public-private partnerships have been identified as a successful strategy for driving substantial change in waste reduction. At Winnow, we have witnessed first hand the impact collaborating with both private foodservice businesses and public entities can have. The approach supports the creation of systemic change that complements governmental waste reduction policies.

3. Implement a "Target, Measure, Act" Framework

The UNEP report endorses a methodical approach to tackling food waste, captured in the "Target, Measure, Act" framework. This mirrors a methodology we have advocated from the start at Winnow: we assist kitchens in setting specific waste reduction targets, employ AI-powered tools to measure waste accurately, and support the implementation of effective waste reduction strategies. It's the combination of the three which helps drive meaningful change. 

4. Promote a Circular Economy 

The report advocates for a circular economy, promoting the productive use of food scraps and other waste materials. Exploring ways to repurpose resources not only reduces environmental footprint but drives cost savings. Whether it's using leftover coffee grounds as fertiliser for a kitchen herb garden or dehydrating mushroom stems to add flavour to soups, the opportunities for closing the loop in the kitchen are endless. 

5. Celebrating our Global Responsibility

The report emphasises the role of G20 countries in leading by example, potentially setting global benchmarks for food waste reduction. Similarly, within the foodservice industry we are inspired daily by an increasing number of organisations such as IKEA, Hilton and Marriott stepping up to the plate and embracing their role in setting a blueprint for the industry. Food waste is a global challenge that will require a global effort to solve. 


The UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2024 provides essential insights that validate and inform the ongoing efforts from Winnow and our community to combat food waste in hospitality. With a clear mandate for change, supported by data and collaborative efforts, the foodservice industry is well-positioned to make significant progress in reducing its environmental impact. Now more than ever, the industry must embrace the tools and strategies available to turn the tide against food waste. Food truly is too valuable to waste.

Read UNEP's Food Waste Index Report 2024 here

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