Biggest Contributors to Food Waste

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3 months ago

Every year, Americans waste almost 80 billion pounds of food, about 40% of our entire food supply. To put this in perspective, the USDA reported 13.5 million households in the United States suffered from food insecurity. If we’d redirect all the wasted food to these people, each household would have almost 6000 extra pounds of food a year. Yet year after year, Americans throw away an average of 219 pounds of food per each. 

All of this is often due to misunderstanding of food labels as well as the surplus and relative inexpensiveness of food in the United States and was compounded by the pandemic when people often hoarded food and brought take-out. The United States has a goal of reducing all of this by 50% by 2030 but right now, here’s the top contributors of food waste in the States.

3. Restaurants

Every year, about 16.6% of the waste in the United States stems from the restaurant industry. Fueled by everyone’s obsession for large portions restaurants try to please their customers by providing increasingly large sizes, but diners are unable to always finish the enormous plates of food, leaving on average about 1/5th of their plate each time. 

The problem gets worse at restaurants with more diverse menus as they’ll often over-purchase supplies which are unable to be used in time.

Next time you eat out, consider getting smaller, more manageable portions and saving your leftovers for later. 

2. Homes

About 24.2% of our annual waste comes from customer’s wasteful habits at home. We overbuy and underuse our groceries and then misunderstand expiration dates, often throwing out perfectly good foods prematurally. 

Furthermore, as home delivery apps are allowing people to get food to their doorsteps at a touch of a button, we’re seeing more and more wasted food. 

Next time you go shopping, be sure to only buy food you are 100% sure you’ll eat in time. 

1. Manufacturing 

Finally, manufacturing is the leading cause of food waste. Every step in the process of getting food to your fridge leaks food. If a manufacturing or packaging plant cannot keep up with the inflow of food, food is discarded until they can. If a new machine is getting put through its paces, food may be destroyed or thrown out as the machine gets calibrated and tested. 

Overall, inefficiencies in the manufacturing process leads to a whooping 38.7% of total annual food waste. 

Honorable mention: Grocery stores

Customers are picky about their food. They always want the freshest, newest produce. The slightest scratch or bruise can be detrimental to the sellability of a food item. And the longer it sits, the harder to sell. Thus, grocery stores end up discard about 8.7 million tons of mostly perfectly, edible goods a year. 

Fortunately, AI is helping stores better manage their storages and supply chains to try to limit this, but until customers can overcome their perfectionist tendencies, blemished foods will still get wasted. 

Next time you plan on going to get food, consider settling for smaller portions, more controlled shopping sprees, and picking the less “pretty” produce if you plan on eating it soon. 


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3 months ago


Mientas el mundo muere de hambre. 😭

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