Researchers from York University and Edinburgh University analysed the global food system using data from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation.
It found that the world's population consumes around 10% more food than it needs and almost 9% is thrown away or left to spoil.
The researchers looked at losses at different stages in the production process and found that almost half of all harvested crops - or 2.1 billion tonnes - are lost, taking into account inefficiencies in production processes as well as consumer waste and over-consumption.
The study again stressed the inefficiency of livestock production, which it said produced losses of 78% on harvested crops. They found that around 1.08 billion tonnes of harvested crops are used to produce 240 million tonnes of edible animal products including meat, milk and eggs.
In 2015 a UN report found if the amount of food wasted was reduced by only 25 per cent there would be enough to feed all the people who are malnourished.
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