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Food Waste in Norway 2010-2015

Final Report from the ForMat Project

This is the final report from the ForMat Project on trends in amounts and composition of edible food waste in Norway. The report covers a period of six years, from 2010 to 2015, and presents results from four stages in the value chain: food industry, wholesale, retail and households.


Food waste in Norway (industry, wholesale, retail and households)

* Edible food waste from the four stages was reduced by 12 % from 2010 to 2015 (kg per head of population)

* Measured in tons, edible food waste from the four stages was reduced by 7 %.

* Overall, 68.7 kg of food per person is discarded (2015).

* Food waste in Norway represents a financial loss of more than NOK 20 billion annually.

* Greenhouse gas emissions associated with food waste correspond to 978 000 tons of CO2 equivalents, or about one-quarter of emissions from private cars in Norway.


Food waste in Norwegian households

* An average person throws away 42.1 kg of food per year (2015).

* An average household discards food worth NOK 5 800 annually.

* Food waste from households makes up 13 % of consumption; this means that every eighth bag of groceries ends up in the dustbin.


Key figures from the ForMat Project show a reduction in the amount of edible food waste in Norway over the last five years. After a steady increase in amounts of wet organic waste1 in 1995-2010 (waste statistics from Statistics Norway), amounts of edible food waste have been reduced in the past five years. In other words, there has been a reversal from a rising trend in food waste before 2010 to a decrease since 2010.

Overall, for the four stages of the value chain, edible food waste has been reduced by 12 %, measured in kg per capita. There is reason to believe that this decline is due to the efforts of the ForMat Project as well as the food sector, which has supported the project activities by implementing its own waste reduction measures.

The goal set at the start of the ForMat Project was to reduce edible food waste in Norway by 25 % by the end of 2015. Although that ambitious target was not met, we can still be pleased at the increasing awareness of edible food waste in society, commitment the food industry and retailers, the measures taken and the concrete results achieved in the short period since the commencement of the ForMat Project.


In addition to the results of its surveys, the project has yielded further positive results, which include:

* A common methodology for measuring edible food waste.

* Networks between actors in the value chain.

* Centres of expertise with a strategic focus on edible food waste.

* Numerous measures to prevent or reduce edible food waste which have proven effective.

* Increased awareness in society of edible food waste as a challenge.



Key National Food Waste Figures

The total amount of food waste in the four stages in the value chain was 355 000 tons in 2015. Compared to 2010, food waste decreased by 25 500 tons or around 7% of the total amount.

Food waste in the four stages was the equivalent of 68.7 kg per capita, and since 2010 there has been a reduction of 10 kg per capita, or about 12%. This sharp reduction is because the total amount of food waste decreased by 25 500 tons, while the population of Norway rose by 300 000, from 2010 to 2015. The ambitious goal of a 25% reduction in food waste from 2010 to the end of 2015 has therefore been half achieved!

Most (61%) of the food waste in 2015 occurred in households; here, new figures show that about 217 500 tons were discarded. Then come producers with around 74 500 tons (21%), retailers with about 60 000 tons (17%) and finally wholesalers with approximately 3000 tons (1%).

The food discarded in Norway represents a financial loss of more than NOK 20 billion per year or about NOK 4000 per capita, and leads to annual emissions corresponding to 978 000 tons of CO2 equivalents from production, packaging and distribution of food that is discarded instead of being eaten. About NOK 13 billion of the financial loss is from households; the average household throws away food worth about NOK 5800 every year. This means that society will save on both emissions and costs by reducing food waste, making food waste reduction a very effective environmental measure.

Emissions and financial losses related to food waste have not been reduced as much as the amount of food waste, since food waste has mostly decreased for relatively inexpensive and eco-friendly products and increased for more expensive and less eco-friendly products.

Food waste from the different stages in the value chain was surveyed for six years, from 2010 to 2015.

Trends from 2010 to 2015

* Producers: - 4 % as a percentage of quantity produced

* Wholesalers: - 40 % as a percentage of sales

* Retailers: + 2 % from 2013 to 2015, percentage of sales

* Waste sample analyses: - 9 % measured in kg per capita

At the production stage, food waste was reduced by 4% from 2010 to 2015, measured in tons of total production. Liquid dairy products, dry goods and frozen ready-made food showed the highest proportion of food waste, while eggs, solid dairy products and fresh meat had the lowest wastage.

Three out of ten product groups showed an increase in the percentage of waste, while five groups showed a reduction. Reductions in waste were primarily due to the introduction of better practices in companies and active measurement and monitoring of quantities of food waste, as a result of active food waste reduction efforts.

At the wholesale stage, food waste was cut by 40% from 2010 to 2015, as a percentage of total sales. The reduction was greatest for baked goods, followed by fresh meat and frozen ready-made food. The reduced waste percentage was mainly due to increased sales and stable waste levels.

At the retail stage, food waste increased by 2.3% from 2013 to 2015 for the categories analysed, measured as a percentage of total sales (data for the percentage of sales from 2010 to 2012 are not directly comparable with those from 2013 to 2015). Despite the fact that the total proportion of food waste increased, it was reduced in eleven of fifteen categories. The categories showing an increase were potatoes, dry goods, dairy products and fresh fish. The extensive restructuring in the industry in 2015 (sale and acquisition of ICA) may be a reason for the increase over 2014, in addition to increased investment in fresh fish meals and ready-made food, but there is insufficient data to determine this.

At the consumer stage, food waste in kg per capita decreased by 9% from 2011 to 2015. Pan and plate leftovers and fruit and vegetables comprise most of the food waste and all groups except for these showed a reduction in food waste during the period. The reduction was greatest for bread, where waste was reduced by as much as 40%.

Consumer Studies

The study of consumers’ food waste habits shows several positive trends. Most consumers reported discarding pan leftovers, milk/cream and fruit and vegetables, while few threw away biscuits, eggs and fresh fish products. Consumer perceptions of the most important reason for discarding food varied between the product groups, but “past its expiry date” followed by “reduced quality” were the reasons most frequently mentioned.

Consumer attitudes to food waste also show positive results; an increasing proportion reported having reduced food waste, and being more aware of their food waste as a problem. Fewer consumers state that they throw away food just because it is past its expiry date, and this applies to all age groups.

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