MORE Food Waste COVERAGE
Whether it’s packages of sushi tossed at the end of the day in a prepared food department, a produce drawer in a consumer’s home emptied out on garbage night, or crops discarded due to labor shortages, a lot of food is being wasted across the farm-to-table chain.
Just how much? The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) estimates that humans waste about 40% of all food produced on a global scale. That statistic is about the same in the United States, where 108 billion pounds of food is wasted every year, according to Feeding America. Food waste actually takes up most of the space in U.S. landfills, comprising 22% of municipal solid waste.
If food waste is problematic given food insecurities around the world, it’s also affecting the environment. The WWF reports that wasted food represents about 10% of global greenhouse gases and has been a catalyst for the loss of forest, grasslands and other habitats.
In recent years, the issue has come more to the forefront, with agricultural groups, food retailers, consumers and governments expressing interest in curbing food waste in their part of the chain.
Walmart, for its part, is aiming to eliminate food waste by 2025 by increasing the sell-through of its food products through better forecasting and ordering tools. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer is taking other steps across its operation, too, like converting food that’s no longer edible to animal feed, compost or energy.
These and other ambitious retailer goals reflect the amount of work to be done in the grocery sector. In its report, Coresight cites research by ReFED showing that about 30% of food in U.S. grocery stores is currently thrown away. Coresight pegs the cost of food waste to the industry at about $16 billion in net income annually.