European Union households wasted 70 kilogrammes (154 lbs) of food per person in 2020, accounting for more than half of food waste in the 27 member states, the bloc's statistics office said on Tuesday.
Total food waste in the bloc reached 127 kgs per inhabitant in the same year, Eurostat data showed in its first EU-wide report on the subject. The region had an estimated population of 447.7 million at the beginning of 2020.
Global food waste accounts for between 8% and 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, and tackling consumer food waste remains a challenge in the EU and around the world.
Eurostat said households were responsible for 55% of the total food waste in the EU during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the remaining 45% generated in other stages of the food supply chain.
The next biggest contributors were food and drink manufacturing with 23 kgs of waste per person, and primary production with 14 kgs - sectors where there are strategies to reduce spoilage, such as the use of discarded parts as by-products, Eurostat said.
Restaurants and food services accounted for 12 kgs of food waste per person in 2020, or 9% of the bloc's total, while retail and other food distribution wasted the least.
Eurostat said the impact of the COVID-19 lockdowns on these two sectors was still being analysed.
(Reporting by Diana Mandiá, editing by Milla Nissi and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)