Water Footprint of Food Wastage

FAO (2013): Food wastage footprint - Impacts on natural resources

Can be accessed here:


Starting on p. 26 of this report: Water Footprint of Food Wastage (both food loss and food waste):

...Globally, the blue water footprint for the agricultural production of total food wastage in 2007 is about 250 km3, which is more than 38 times the blue water footprint of USA households, or 3.6 times the blue water footprint of total USA consumption (using data of Mekonnen & Hoekstra 2011). In terms of volume, it represents almost three times the volume of Lake Geneva, or the annual water discharge of the Volga River (FAO, 2013).

...The national blue water footprint accounts for the consumption of agricultural products indicate that the global water footprint of food wastage is higher than that of any country, whether a temperate country with relatively large water use or a large country, such as India or China (FAO, 2013).


Food loss refers to a decrease in mass (dry matter) or nutritional value (quality) of food that was originally intended for human consumption. These losses are mainly caused by inefficiencies in the food supply chains, such as poor infrastructure and logistics, lack of technology, insufficient skills, knowledge and management capacity of supply chain actors, and lack of access to markets. In addition, natural disasters play a role.

Food waste refers to food appropriate for human consumption being discarded, whether or not after it is kept beyond its expiry date or left to spoil. Often this is because food has spoiled but it can be for other reasons such as oversupply due to markets, or individual consumer shopping/eating habits.

Food wastage refers to any food lost by deterioration or waste. Thus, the term "wastage" encompasses both food loss and food waste.

Short video that summarizes the FAO report:


Food wastage: Key facts and figures (FAO, 2013)


FAO 2013. Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources, FAO, Rome, 63 pp.

Mekonnen, M.M. & Hoekstra, A.Y. 2011. National Water Footprint Accounts: the Green, Blue and Grey Water Footprint of Production and Consumption. Volume 1: Main Report, Value of Water Research Report Series No. 50. The Netherlands, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education.