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5 Shocking Facts about produce waste that sound impossible

Do you know about the extent of fruit and vegetable waste in today's food industry?

Patrick Flynn, Co-Founder, Hazel Technologies
February 11, 2016 3:45 pm CST

According to Dana Gunders of the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), powering the American food supply chain consumes 10% of the U.S. energy budget, 50% of U.S. land, and a whopping 80% of freshwater in the United  States.

In countries such as India and Africa, where some estimates claim over 40% of harvested produce is wasted, waste is even greater in terms of sheer quantity.

Wasted food, especially perishable fruits and vegetables, has not only vast economic implications, but social, environmental, and even national security implications.

"Organic Matter" in landfills is responsible for nearly 1/5 of greenhouse gases and experts agree that slight improvements in food waste efficiency would help stabilize millions of American's who are currently malnourished.

Fruit and vegetable waste is proportionately the largest group of wasted food. Produce is consistently the most wasted food type at a majority of points in the supply chain.

These 5 facts underscore the importance of the current extent of fruit and vegetable waste:

Seafood is also wasted at extremely high rates, but the majority of seafood waste is at the consumer

Seafood is also wasted at extremely high rates, but the majority of seafood waste is at the consumer level. Source

1. Fruits and Vegetables are the only food group that is more likely to be lost than to be consumed.

At any given stage in the supply chain, produce is the most likely type of food to spoil.

At any given stage in the supply chain, produce is the most likely type of food to spoil. Source

2. Out of 5 major supply chain stages, produce is the most likely to be wasted in 3 stages (Production, Post-Harvest, Distribution and Retail).

The distribution and retail levels are significant points of waste in the produce supply chain.

The distribution and retail levels are significant points of waste in the produce supply chain.  Source

3. At least 1 truckload of perishables out of 7 (~15%) will be thrown away due to spoilage and related causes. A single truckload of produce can hold over 40,000 lbs of fruits or vegetables.

U.S. household waste figures are comparable to European figures.

U.S. household waste figures are comparable to European figures. Source

4. Each American household of four wastes up to $2,275 in food per year. There are over 120 million households in the U.S.

This figure excludes retail, distribution, harvest, and post harvest stages of the supply chain.

This figure excludes retail, distribution, harvest, and post harvest stages of the supply chain. Source

5. American consumers waste 10x as much as the average Southwest Asian. Reducing food waste in America by 15% would feed 25 million people in third world countries for one year.



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