British consumers throw out a third of all food bought, worth some 10 billion pounds (12.7 million euros, 19.5 million dollars), a study showed Thursday.
The average household throws food worth 420 pounds each year into the waste bin, rising to 610 pounds for those with children, said the study by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap).
This includes 1.3 million unopened yoghurt pots, 5,500 whole chickens and 440,000 ready meals, it said.
"These findings are staggering in their own right, but at a time when global food shortages are in the headlines this kind of wastefulness becomes even more shocking," said Environment Minister Joan Ruddock.
"And there are climate change costs to all of us of growing, processing, packaging, transporting, and refrigerating food that only ends up in the bin," she added.
Much of the food thrown away is past its sell-by date, after being left too long in the fridge, but some one billion pounds' worth of discarded products were still "in date," the study said.
Wrap boss Liz Goodwin called for a "major debate about the way food is packaged, sold, stored at home, cooked and then collected when it is thrown out."
She said: "Food waste has a significant environmental impact. This research confirms that it is an issue for us all, whether as consumers, retailers, local or central government."