Waste Matters! (Food Waste, That Is)


I’ve been seeing a number of articles pop up recently regarding the amount of food we waste in America. It’s disturbing: 30% to 40% of the food supply ends up in the landfill. In 2010, 133 billion pounds of food was thrown out at retail stores, restaurants and US homes, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

We waste things. This is not breaking news. I know. But, it’s still bothersome. Especially when I clean out my fridge and throw away rotten produce I never cooked up, dump the leftovers I was never enticed to reheat or stare at that half-empty container of whatever new product from Trader Joes I decided to try, but didn’t like, and know I won’t touch again. I am part of the problem. We all are.

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Today Spend Matters begins a new series on the food supply chain, the amount of food waste we produce and what is being done about it. We think it’s timely, too, as the holidays approach. Thanksgiving is next week – the beloved holiday where the main attraction is, let’s be honest, the food. (Oh, family and football are good, too.)

The series will look at just how much food we throw out in the US, the attention the issue is receiving from national media, how this impacts the food supply chain, and even, what some states are doing to decrease the amount of food being thrown out. One New England state is taking the matter so seriously that it has a law regarding how much good people can put in the trash.

When it comes to food waste, there are also numerous lessons for procurement and supply chain in general (e.g., demand management mattering more than unit cost). We’ll be sure to unearth these in our analysis.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for our coverage. And remember as Thanksgiving approaches: buy only what you need, not necessarily what you think you need.

Voices (2)

  1. Brian Hoffmeyer:

    I love that SpendMatters is covering this, it’s a topic that is near and dear to me. National Geographic’s recently concluded 8 month long series on food has covered many similar topics and is worth a read.

  2. Rod Averbuch:

    The large amount of fresh food waste is a lose-lose situation for the environment, the struggling families in today’s tough economy and for the food retailers. There is no single cure, or silver bullet for food waste reduction therefore, we should address the food waste problem in every link in our food supply chain. For example, the excess inventory of fresh perishables close to their expiration on supermarket shelves, combined with the consumer “Last In First Out” shopping behavior, might be the weakest link of the fresh food supply chain.
    The new open GS1 DataBar standard enables applications that encourage efficient consumer shopping by offering him automatic and dynamic purchasing incentives for fresh perishables approaching their expiration dates before they end up in a landfill.
    The “End Grocery Waste” App, which is based on the open GS1 DataBar standard, encourages efficient consumer shopping behavior that maximizes grocery retailer revenue, makes fresh food affordable for all families and effectively reduces the global carbon footprint.

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