The findings released on Thursday by ETH Zurich (the Federal Institute of Technology) and the University of Basel concluded that the average per capita daily waste is 320 grams of food.
The research was commissioned by the Swiss chapter of WWF, the environmental group, and the Foodwaste.ch foundation.
“Every year we throw away two million tons of perfectly good food,” the WWF said in a report timed for release ahead of World Food Day on October 16th.
The research shows that the consumer is responsible for the biggest amount of waste — 45 percent — as food is allowed to spoil or goes uneaten.
The catering sector accounts for a further five percent, while food processors are responsible for 30 percent of losses as lower quality products are discarded.
The waste from agriculture amounts to around 13 percent, largely a result of fruit and vegetables left in the fields because they are too large, too small or “too bulky”.
Food spoilage in the retail sector (five percent) is not as significant as often thought, while the losses from wholesale trade are also modest (two percent).
But WWF expert Jennifer Carpenter says not all food losses have the same impact.
For example, a discarded salad grown in your own garden matters less than beans from Kenya that have been transported by air, using a lot of fuel, she said.
Throwing away meat has the most impact because of the resources used to produce it, Carpenter said.
“With the involvement of all levels of the food chain, we could prevent a third of today’s food losses,” WWF says.
The annual savings could result in reductions of carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to what 500,000 cars emit, the environmental group says.
The group encourages consumers to plan their food shopping and use to minimize waste.
It suggests re-using leftovers, sealing food properly and keeping it in a cold place to avoid spoilage and buying fresh food more frequently instead of bulk purchases.
Among other tips, the WWF recommends testing products past their expiry date to ensure they really are inedible and to compost fruit and vegetable leftovers whenever possible.