Each year, in the US, about 63 million tons of food is wasted. The restaurant industry alone generated about 11.4 million tons of food waste. Food and packaging/containers account for almost 45 percent of the materials landfilled.
What’s food waste? According to the Food Waste Alliance, food waste is exactly what it sounds like: any food (raw, cooked, solid, or liquid) that gets discarded. It can happen anywhere along the supply chain: a farm, a manufacturer, a retailer, a restaurant, even in our homes.
The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that 52 percent of produce grown in the US is wasted because it never gets harvested, is never sold to consumers, or is lost or spoiled during storage or transit. The US Department of Agriculture reports that American consumers waste about one pound of food per day. The EPA says that between 4 and 10 percent of food purchased by foodservice operations in the US is thrown out before reaching the plate.
What food manufacturers can do:
- Labels have been determined to be one of the leading causes of food waste. Within the next few years, most manufacturers will switch to label language like “use by” or “best if used by” instead of “sell by” or “best before” language.
- Almost a third of the edible parts of food is lost in supply chains. Manufacturers can leverage technology to optimize logistics: know when products ship and reach the retailer/operator, plus be alerted to potential delays or damage.
- 93.4 percent of food from manufacturing (that is safe but unsellable) is recycled.
Food manufacturers who address food waste:
Kraft Heinz’s company mission is to be the best food company, growing a better world. Supporting its mission, the company pledges to make 100 percent of its packaging globally recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. “Our collective industry has a massive challenge ahead of us with respect to packaging recyclability, end-of-life recovery and single-use plastics,” said Bernardo Hees, CEO at Kraft Heinz.
Over the last 10 years, Nestlé has more than halved, per ton of product, the amount of waste for disposal (waste for disposal is any material generated during manufacture that is destined for final disposal to landfill or to incineration without energy recovery) generated in its factories. In its factories and distribution centers, Nestlé’s goal is zero waste for disposal by 2020.
Tyson Innovation Lab launched ¡Yappah! brand to help fight food waste. “The brand’s mission is unique, important and far-reaching,” said Rizal Hamdallah, Head of Tyson Innovation Lab. “Through this launch, we intend to address global food challenges such as food waste.” The first product under the ¡Yappah! brand, Protein Crisps, is crafted from rescued and upcycled vegetable and grain-based ingredients that might otherwise be left behind.
Morton Salt launched its long-term commitment to reduce food waste with its “Erase Food Waste” campaign. It’s removed the salt trail that pours from the Morton Salt Girl’s canister. The company aims to eliminate food waste at its offices and operations by 2030. In 2017, Morton Salt donated more than 500,000 pounds of food grade products to Feeding America and other reuse organizations as part of its commitment.
Research from ReFED concluded that food waste is a solveable problem, but it needs funding, support, innovation and education in place to change behaviors. Check out the Food Waste Reduction Alliance for more information on how to help with the problem of food waste in the U.S., but there is a long way to go.