Food industry data reveals billions of pounds of food wasted

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While agricultural producers are searching for ways to feed a growing world population, a key number to consider is the amount of food that goes to waste, 4.1 billion pounds by food manufacturers according to one study.

Trash can The study from the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Food Marketing Institute and the National Restaurant Association is the first comprehensive assessment of food waste data provided by the food industry.

A review of 2011 numbers shows companies disposed of 4.1 billion pounds of food, about 20 pounds of food per person each month for a whole year. The total is divided among the manufacturing sector (2.4 billion pounds wasted) and retail and wholesale sectors (1.7 pounds wasted). Those numbers don’t account for the amount of food thrown out by consumers.

Acknowledging the food waste, Phil Lempert, founder of Food Nutrition & Science and CEO of The Lempert Report says everyone plays a role in reducing the waste.

"Everyone in the food chain from growers and manufacturers to retailers and consumers have to figure out how to decrease the waste and get these staggering numbers down."

The release notes the 4.1 billion pound total may be a bit misleading, of the food waste measured, 73 percent was converted to animal feed and another 20 percent was used as fertilizer.

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ks  |  August, 02, 2013 at 09:21 AM

Reduce is one part of the solution. Recycle, reuse and repurpose are the other parts. Recycle? How do we recreate food from food? Reuse? Any methods besides left overs and dumpster diving? Repurpose? Collect it, anaerobically digest it, use the methane produced for fuel, send the rest for soil amendments.

iowa  |  August, 02, 2013 at 11:42 AM

So we see at the end of the article the food is still used as animal feed and fertilizer. So only less than 7 percent is "wasted". And food waste can also be turned into electricity as many metropolitan area's do. So how much of the "waste" is actually not used in some way?

Illinois  |  August, 06, 2013 at 01:38 PM

Well we could just label all the blemished stuff "organic" and charge double the price, then watch it FLY off the shelves. No waste that way! We have let the consumer get too picky about appearance and safety of affordable foods when they eagerly pay double for grubby organic food grown in manure and smeared in the stuff.

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