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Spanish families are among those who lose the least amount of food from the EU after Bulgaria

The Congress of Deputies is working on what would be the first legislation to prevent food from ending up in garbage. If the law on food loss and waste prevention goes into effect, Spain will be the third country in the EU to legislate on the issue. At the moment, although there are no regulations, Spanish families are not behind Europe when it comes to maximizing the use of food.

Of the 27 EU countries, Spanish citizens are second only to Bulgaria in terms of throwing away less food. This is one of the main conclusions Analysis by Eurostat which, for the first time, will examine food waste in detail, as shown in the following graph.

This study by the European Statistics Office highlights that Spanish households throw away 30 kilograms of food per person every year. Not insignificant indicator, which is less than half of the Union average.

In total, each European citizen wastes 70 kilos of food at home alone, without taking into account the other links in the food chain, from the field, to production, to bars and restaurants.

If the focus is broadened and seen as a combination of these steps, after food is grown, processed, produced, sold and on the plate, there is much more waste. In total, according to these measures, 89 kilograms were consumed per inhabitant in Spain during 2020, during the pandemic, when consumption increased in homes and fell in restaurants. A total of 4.3 million tons of food was wasted.

In this analysis, as can be seen in the following graph, the two links in the chain where the most food ends up in the trash are the primary sector and households, each with 1.4 million tons or 30 kg per person.

Instead, in manufacturing and processing – the food industry – it is less, 18 kilos per capita. A figure that drops to 7 and 4 kilos per person, respectively, in food establishments – bars, restaurants, etc. – and in distribution, neighborhood, hypermarkets and supermarkets.

Thus, this 89 kilograms of food still in good condition, which is not finished consumption, places Spain the sixth country in the European Union that wastes less food. We are far from the EU average of 127 kilograms per capita, but 30% higher than Slovenia, the European country with the most controlled waste of staple products.

And the worst doing it is Cyprus, 397 kilograms per person in 2020; Denmark and Greece follow, with 221 and 191 kg per citizen, as summarized in the following graph.

At the community level, 57 million tons of food was wasted in 2020, which equates to the aforementioned 127 kg per capita. More than half of the waste occurred in homes. In a group of countries, food in good condition that is thrown away at home corresponds to 55% of the total waste in the food chain.

Thus, household food waste almost doubles food waste from the primary production and manufacturing sectors of food and beverage products (14 kg and 23 kg per capita; 11% and 18%, respectively). While restaurants, in that atypical 2020, threw away 12 kilos of food in good condition, per person; and distribution, 9 kg.

The last link, the wastage of food bought by citizens and which meant spending, is one of the concerns of the law now in Parliament.

According to the calculations of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, every year each Spaniard spends 250 euros, because this is the equivalent of the food they buy and end up throwing away. In an interview with, Minister Luis Planas assured that according to the calculations of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), “20% to 30% of food production is thrown away. It is an unbearable indicator, because there are products that are in good condition.”

If Congress passes the new law by the end of the year, it will go into effect in 2023. Various steps are collected in it so that the food does not end up in the container. In the first, which corresponds to producers and distributors, when food is in good condition, at its best, but has not been sold, it can be donated to food banks.

At the same time, there are other mechanisms, such as “Too Good to Go” type applications, but there is no question of donation, because these products are paid for, even if it is lower than the original price on the shelves.

The second level of this hierarchy corresponds to food that is not sold, but still has optimal conditions for consumption. For this, it is necessary to transform them into other products, such as juices or jams. And if these two options are not possible, they will have to be used as animal feed. Only if it is unusable for humans or animals should food be used as a by-product for other industries; And finally, already as waste, to obtain compost, biogas or fuel. However, none of these steps are for families who are called to be responsible.

Source: El Diario


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