Worldwide Food Consumption Per Capita

In this article, we are going to visualize the top 20 most consumed foods across the world to see what crops and animal products are eaten in different parts of the world.

 

All data is from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which provides the most comprehensive and quality datasets for anything related to food consumption in both total and per capita terms (83 individual food categories included). Data included is for 2018, as this is the most recent year for which data on food consumption per capita across the world is available from FAO. Before beginning, a few points need to be made about some food categories included in the visualizations:

 

1. Vegetables, Other and Fruit, Other are the only categories in this list which aren’t single food products, but a combined total of many less consumed vegetables and fruits (Vegetables, Other contains the total of 42 individual vegetables such as cabbage, cucumber, broccoli). Due to this, we will ignore these categories when looking at which individual foods are most consumed per person.
 
2. Milk includes both liquid milk and other milk-based products such as cheese, ice cream and butter. As such, it is really a figure on total dairy consumption, derived from milk.
 
3. Fish, Seafood includes the consumption of all fish & crustaceans such as prawns.
 

 

 
The average person in the world consumes approximately 675 kg of food per year, or 1.85 kg of food per day.
The most consumed food in the world is Milk (79.3 kg per person), which is equivalent to 12% of all food consumed in the world, followed by Rice (78.4 kg per person), Wheat (67 kg per person) and Potatoes (32.9 kg per person). The most consumed meat worldwide is seafood, followed by pig, chicken and cattle. Now, we will look at each Continent individually to see what crops and animal products are most consumed across the world.

 

1. Europe

The average European consumes more food than the global average and consumes approximately 780.6 kg of food per year or 2.13 kg of food per day. In Europe, the most consumed food by far is Milk at 175.6 kg per year, which is equivalent to 22% of all food consumed in Europe, followed by Wheat (110.3 kg per person), Potatoes (74.5 kg per person), Pig (34.8 kg per person) and Sugar (34.7 kg per person). Pig is the most consumed meat by a significant amount, followed by Chicken, Seafood and Cattle.

 

2. North America (USA & Canada)

North Americans consume more food per person than any other continent at 861.8 kg per person in 2018, or 2.36 kg of food per day. However, it should be noted that this figure only includes the North American countries of the United States and Canada & doesn’t include Central American or Caribbean countries. As such, this figure is representative of only 63% of North America’s population and not the entire continent. The average North American consumes more animal products per person than any other region of the world, with 3 out of the top 5 most consumed foods being animal products.
Milk is by far the most consumed food at 217.7 kg per year, which is equivalent to 25% of all food consumed in North America, followed by Wheat (80.6 kg per person), Chicken (55 kg per person), Potatoes (54.8 kg per person) and Cattle (36.1 kg per person).

 

3. Asia

In Asia, food consumption patterns are very different from Europe and North America, with vegetables and fruits being consumed in large amounts, and animal products consumed at much lower quantities per person. The average Asian person consumes approximately the same amount of food as the world average (675.2 kg per person), consuming 679.7 kg of food per year or 1.86 kg of food per day.
Rice is the most consumed food in Asia by far at 113 kg per person, which is equivalent to 16% of all food consumed in Asia, followed by Wheat (65.2 kg per person), Milk (60.2 kg per person), Potatoes (29.9 kg per person) and Seafood (23.7 kg per person). Seafood is the most consumed meat by far, followed by Pig and Chicken, with only a relatively small amount of Cattle being consumed.

 

4. South America

In South America, food consumption patterns are nearly the opposite of Asia, with Vegetables and Fruits being consumed in relatively small amounts, while animal products are consumed in much higher quantities. The average South American consumes slightly less food than the global average (675.2 kg per person) and the Asian average (679.7 kg per person) at 668.3 kg of food per year or 1.83 kg of food per day.
In South America, the most consumed food per person by far is once again Milk at 120.7 kg per year, which is equivalent to 18% of all food consumed in South America. The next most consumed foods are Wheat (59.4 kg per person), Rice (44.7 kg per person), Chicken (38.2 kg per person) and Sugar (35.2 kg per person). Chicken is the most consumed meat, followed by Cattle, with Pig and Seafood being consumed in lower amounts.

 

5. Africa

Africa has perhaps the most unique and diverse food consumption patterns of any continent, largely due to the fact that Africa’s climate is much drier and hotter on average than other continents. Due to this, different crops such as cassava and yams are grown and consumed in Africa, which are not often consumed in other continents. The average African person consumes less food than the average person of any other continent, and well below the global average (675.2 kg per person), consuming 540.8 kg of food per year or 1.48 kg of food per day.
This means that Africans consume 20% less food than the global average, 31% less than the European average and 37% less than the North American average. In Africa, the most consumed food is Cassava at 66.7 kg per year, which is equivalent to 12% of all food consumed in Africa, followed by Wheat (50.8 kg per person), Maize (44.2 kg per person), Rice (34.3 kg per person) and Yams (33.5 kg per person).
Africa is the only continent in the world which has no animal products among its top five most consumed foods, with only Milk and Seafood ranking among the top 20 most consumed foods. As a result, 18/20 of Africa’s most consumed foods are plants, while only 2/20 come from animals. Hence, the average African person consumes by a large margin the least amount of meat compared with all other continents in the world. 

 

6. Oceania

Last, but certainly not least, is Oceania. Oceania is a continent made up of 14 countries, with 61% of people in Oceania living in Australia, 20% from Papua New Guinea and 11% from New Zealand with the remaining 8% of people living in one of the 11 island countries in the Pacific Ocean. The average Oceanian consumes more food than the global average, consuming approximately 769.1 kg of food per year or 2.11 kg of food per day.
In Oceania, the most consumed food by far is Milk at 194 kg per year, which is equivalent to 25% of all food consumed in Oceania, followed by Wheat (76.2 kg per person), Potatoes (43.6 kg per person), Chicken (43.2 kg per person) and Sugar (35.8 kg per person). Chicken is the most consumed meat, followed by Seafood, Cattle, Pig, Mutton & Goat, and Offals.

 

Summary

Average amount of food consumed per person in 2018 by Continent:

  1. Europe – 780.6 kg (2.13 kg per day)
  2. North America (USA & Canada) – 861.8 kg (2.36 kg per day)
  3. Asia – 679.7 kg (1.86 kg per day)
  4. South America – 668.3 kg (1.83 kg per day)
  5. Africa – 540.8 kg (1.48 kg per day)
  6. Oceania – 769.1 kg (2.11 kg per day)

 

Top 5 most consumed foods by Continent:

  1. Europe – Milk, Wheat, Potatoes, Pig & Sugar
  2. North America (USA & Canada) – Milk, Wheat, Chicken, Potatoes & Cattle
  3. Asia – Rice, Wheat, Milk, Potatoes & Seafood
  4. South America – Milk, Wheat, Rice, Chicken & Sugar
  5. Africa – Cassava, Wheat, Maize, Rice & Yams
  6. Oceania – Milk, Wheat, Potatoes, Chicken & Sugar

 

Most consumed Meat by Continent:

  1. Europe – Pig
  2. North America (USA & Canada) – Chicken
  3. Asia – Seafood
  4. South America – Chicken
  5. Africa – Seafood
  6. Oceania – Chicken

All data is from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which provides the most comprehensive and quality datasets for anything related to food consumption in both total and per capita terms (83 individual food categories included).