Team at University of Southern Denmark found that China wastes almost 30% of its food

A worker sweeps up watermelons at a wholesale market in Chongqing, China. Waste from households accounts for only a small fraction of China’s discarded food. Credit: China Photos/Getty

A team consisting of Liu Gang and his colleagues at the University of Southern Denmark in the city of Odense has examined data from field surveys and reviewed public literature which found that China wastes almost 30 percent of its food.

According to a recent article published by, more than a quarter of food in China either gets lost along the supply chain or ends up on garbage heaps. Although out-of-home dining produces about 45 million tonnes of food waste each year, the researchers found that much more is lost during processing and food storage.

Looking at the data, Liu Gang and his team estimate that around 350 million tonnes or about 27 percent of China’s annual farm products are discarded by retailers, restaurants, or consumers with some being ruined or disposed of before even reaching the retail level. 

According to the researchers, food wasted on such a large scale threatens environmental and sustainability goals and they suggest, among other steps, that rural Chinese households use more efficient storage systems and that portion sizes are reduced in urban restaurants and that those also encourage customers to take home their leftovers.

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