A recent review from Cornell University found that that, in general, frozen foods are wasted less than their fresh counterparts at both the retail and consumer levels.
Two recent studies, from the Cornell University Dyson School of Business and market research firm 210 Analytics, have found that frozen foods can play an important role in lowering food waste rates.
“As shoppers and policymakers alike look for ways to reduce food waste, new data show that freezing is an important solution,” said Alison Bodor, president and CEO of the Arlington, Va.-based American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI), a member-based national trade association. “Freezing is nature’s pause button – preserving foods so families can benefit from the longer shelf-life made possible. Whether enjoying frozen fruits and vegetables, pre-portioned meals and appetizers, or other meal ingredients, consumers rely on frozen food to provide flexibility in meal planning and a convenient way to reduce their food waste.”
[Read More: “Keeping Things Cool When It’s Hot”]
A literature review conducted by Ithaca, N.Y.-based Cornell explored the rate of waste among frozen food products in grocery stores and households. The analysis of multiple studies affirmed that, in general, frozen foods are wasted less than their fresh counterparts at both the retail and consumer levels. While the rates of food waste vary among different types of food, among the fruits and vegetables studied, the frozen products are typically much less likely to be thrown out than their fresh counterparts. The study also found that, when refrigerated foods are thrown out, it’s usually because of concerns about spoilage or excess leftovers. Freezing food can help to address these challenges by extending the shelf-life of products and enabling families to prepare just what they need.
Meanwhile, in a survey by San Antonio-based 210 Analytics of more than 1,500 U.S. consumers, exploring concerns, attitudes and behavior related to wasting food and the value of buying frozen products or freezing food at home, 83% of respondents agreed that buying frozen food is a good way to limit the amount of food waste in their households. Consumers largely noted that they benefit from the ability to prepare what they need with frozen food, and 79% said that the ability to prepare exact portions is a purchase driver. Respondents also noted that frozen ingredients offered additional meal flexibility, with nine in 10 frozen food consumers agreeing that frozen food allows them having a backup plan without the risk of spoilage.
In addition to the environmental impact of wasting food, many shoppers are aware of the financial impact. Among households eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), 86% said that they can’t financially afford to waste food and that frozen foods help them save money because they are able to use the products over time.
“Reducing food waste isn’t just good for the planet, it’s good for the wallet,” added Bodor. “With the preservation made possible by freezing, consumers can avoid at-home spoilage of food ingredients and still adjust meal plans due to last-minute changes. This new data shows that when you want to cut back on food waste, the freezer is your friend.”
Both reports are available online at AFFI’s The Frozen Advantage website.