Sustainable Food Consumption

A mother buying pizzas with her children. Many pizzas and other baked food products are made with ... / ©: WWF / Richard Stonehouse
A mother buys pizzas with her children. Many pizzas and other baked food products are made with or contain palm oil. WWF documented a typical family day for a mother and her children in the UK. The day included making food, putting on cosmetics, applying sunscreen, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, and shopping at the supermarket. The presence of palm oil in many of the household products used, eaten, and purchased in the course of the day was surprising and pervasive.
© WWF / Richard Stonehouse

Food is one of our most basic needs and recognised as a human right in over 160 countries worldwide. Although you’d think we would take care of such a necessity, our global food system is totally off-balance.  In 2011, the number of overweight or obese citizens reached 1.5 billion. At the same time, one billion people are suffering from malnutrition and another billion from hidden hunger.    

In addition to this, increasing global food demand places a heavy and growing burden on the ecosystems that provide our food. Modern agriculture has become a key driver of biodiversity loss both inside and outside of Europe. In 2010, food consumption and production were responsible for 20-30% of all environmental impacts in the EU, not only contributing to climate change, but also to air and water pollution, drought and soil erosion.

Europe’s excessive demand for food and feedstock also contributes significantly to the pressure on biodiversity hotspots abroad like the Brazilian Cerrado  and the Heart of Borneo.

WWF’s Living Planet Report shows that our food choices can heavily impact the environment. Particularly animal products like meat and dairy place a heavy burden, as raising livestock requires large amounts of feed, water and energy.

With our world population estimated to grow to around nine billion or more by 2050, our food choices will be vital to the conservation of the ecosystems that support them.


  • Erik Gerritsen

    LiveWell Policy Officer

    WWF European Policy Office

    +32 2 743 88 14

Did you know?

In the last 50 years, global meat consumption has more than doubled from around 20kg per person per year in 1960 to over 45kg in 2009. The average European currently eats over 80kg of meat per year.