Half of fresh produce is lost on the journey from farm to consumer
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research has just released a new data series on loss-adjusted per capita food availability.
The new per capita stats have loss estimates by commodity for the first time. And yes, it’s pretty sadly sobering.
For example, the average total loss for all fresh fruit is 58.2% in 2017, combining food loss at both retail and consumer levels. That means more than half of fresh fruit that enters commercial channels is lost to food waste.
The same holds true for fresh vegetables, where the total loss at all levels was calculated at 51.7% for 2017.
From the USDA report, an explanation:
The loss-adjusted food availability data include estimates for over 200 commodities. In 2017, ERS contracted with RTI International to form a panel of academic experts to review seven critical technical issues and seven data gaps in the LAFA series.
In the report, Expert Panel on Technical Questions and Data Gaps for the ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability (LAFA) Data Series, the panel recommended approaches and methods to improve the series. Two of the recommended changes are included in the current update: (1) new loss factors for individual fresh fruits and vegetables, and (2) a new “edible weight” estimate at the consumer level for all commodities.
TK: Yes, this is another set of statistics that will justify more hand-wringing - and possibly concrete responses — on the issue of food waste. Should we aim to double fresh produce consumption, or halve fresh fruit and vegetable loss?
For an example, here is the estimated loss estimates for avocados from the USDA