Food Loss and Waste Statistics and Solutions

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The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has released their latest report on food waste, Characterization and Management of Food Waste in North America, which provides a closer examination of the main sources of food loss and waste in North American countries. The report focuses on more specific areas of food loss and waste, such as overproduction, product damages, lack of standardized date label practices, lack of cold-chain infrastructure, rigid food-grading specifications, and varying customer demand and market fluctuations.

While composing this report, researchers and investigators compiled a list of key findings about food loss and waste in North American countries, including some of the following:

• Canadians and Americans waste almost double as much food per capita as Mexicans do.

• The largest percentage of food loss and waste in North America is happening at the consumer level, with people throwing away approximately 67 million tons per year. Behind this, industrial, commercial, and institutional levels are responsible for about 51 million tons of food waste annually.

• 49 million tons of food are wasted pre-harvest, meaning that the food is thrown away before it is even brought to production, most likely for being considered unusable.

While the report highlights the many sources of food loss in Northern America, it also looks into possible solutions for these problems. These solutions are broken down into three categories: source reduction, rescue for human consumption, and recovery for animals.

The CEC proposes reducing portion sizes in grocery stores, which goes after the largest group of food wasters. Doing so would limit the amount of food thrown out annually by ensuring consumers do not buy more food then they use per package. They also are recommending that they make second-grade produce more marketable in retail stores, and sell them at a discount.

One of the easiest ways to prevent food waste is for consumers to donate food they do not want or use to others, as long as the food is considered safe, nutritious and edible. One proposed way of making food donations more common in North America is to offer financial incentives for those who donate food they would have wasted themselves.

Lastly, the CEC suggests that wasted food can be recovered to be used for animal feeds, pet food, or feeding the wasted food directly as is to the animals. This solution would also address other issues in North American countries, such as production energies and costs used to produce and distribute animal feeds and pet foods.

The full report is available for download on the CEC website. This report shows that North American countries have a long way to go and many changes to make in their food industries. It also shows that these changes are not up to food providers alone, but also calls on the consumers to be more responsible in how they use their food.

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