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Big numbers represent big impacts. Wasted food from the retail sector before even reaching the consumer is estimated to be valued more than the actual sales profits which are equivalent to 30% of the food on the shelves of supermarkets wasted. There are various reasons for this which are discussed in this article.  Every year around 35% of food in the United States is wasted. The retailers consist of grocers, restaurants, catering, and other businesses that provide or are selling food. The wasted food comes in a variety like over-ordering, throwing, or even products that are safe to eat but don’t have a perfect appearance.  Wasting food is also a moral concern, especially in a country where almost 42 million people experience a disruption of food intake because they lack resources. 

Editor Choice: Retail Food Waste Statistics

  • The United States is on top in discarding food in the world: nearly 40 million tons are wasted every year. 
  • A single person in the US wastes 219 pounds of food.
  • In the United States, between 30-40 percent of the food produced is wasted. 
  • The wastage of food accounts for $161 Billion dollars.
  • 43 billion pounds of food in grocery stores will never make it off the shelf. 
  • About 12 percent of fruit and 11.5 percent of vegetables are never sold.
  • Around 19,000 new unpopular food products placed on shelves are likely to be discarded.
  • 30% of a grocery store’s trash is food waste.
  • Up to 50 percent of produce Is thrown out while still edible.

1. The food wasted by the retail sector represents $18.2 billion of loss yearly.


This seems to be a significant issue, but it is really manageable since these merchants are able to convert wasted food into earnings. Large retailers like as Walmart, Kroger, and other similar businesses have direct relationships with farmers, processors, and consumers. They have the ability to influence every step of the supply chain in order to bring about positive change that will benefit the environment and decrease the amount of money lost due to food waste.

2. Pack sizes that are too large and reduce flexibility. 

(Natural Resources Defense Council)

Produce is sold in predetermined quantities and amounts, limiting the consumer’s ability to be creative. Despite the fact that there is no “one size fits all” solution, progress is being made to reduce food waste. Although retailers may find it difficult to implement a new system that allows for flexible packaging sizes according to grocers’ requirements, the amount of food that can be saved is enormous. Over-purchasing is typically caused by a lack of flexibility on the part of the buyer. For example, if a client wants 30 grapefruits but the shop only has a pack of 50, the business and the customer are both left with 20 extra grapefruits that will most likely be squandered.

3. 33% of retail food waste ends up in landfills.

(Baker City Herald ) 

However, despite all of the advances in technology and creativity, the vast majority of retail food waste ends up in landfills, where it is unable to replenish the soil with its nutrients. Following that, the food begins to decay and emit methane gas. Consumers are increasingly inquiring about the measures that merchants are taking to ensure that food waste is kept to a minimum. Retailers must take extreme measures to make a difference and decrease the amount of food that is wasted in order to maintain their reputation and make the world a better place.

4. 14.3% of retail food waste is repurposed as animal feed.


Farmers have been feeding their livestock with leftover food that has been given to them by shops all across the nation for a long time since it is much less expensive than hauling trash to disposal sites. Some shops may give the animals to zoos or utilize them to create pet food for their customers. It is necessary to have rules in place since shops cannot give every kind of discarded food because certain food, such as foods rich in salt or containing coffee, may damage the animals and lower the grade of cattle.

5. The restaurants spend an estimated $162 billion every year in costs related to wasted food.


As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical American family spends over $3000 on dining out, requiring restaurants to utilize large quantities of plastics and cutlery to accommodate the demand. Unbelievably large amounts of food are also thrown away, with an estimated annual worth of $162 billion. Remember to be attentive while ordering and to pick portion sizes wisely in order to prevent having any leftovers. The recycling sector is putting out tremendous effort to bring this figure down.

6. Wasted food from the retail sector is valued at almost twice the profit from food sales.


Due to strict standards, a high expiration rate, and over-ordering, about 30% of food is thrown away after it has been sitting on the shelves for an excessive amount of time. Some foods have a limited shelf life due to the fact that they are extremely perishable. Although they may not taste great, they are totally safe to consume and are disposed of as trash. The retail industry in the United States generates about 16 billion pounds of food waste each year.

7. In 2018, 797,591 tons of retail food waste were used for compost processes.

(Shelf Engine)

Composting is the process through which organic materials such as food scraps and yard waste are converted into fertilizer. A large portion of the discarded food that does not get diverted from the stream ends up in landfills. Trash materials are packed firmly in there, and as a result, the waste cannot be converted into compost. Waste may be converted into valuable material if done properly. Compost may be utilized in a variety of ways, including being marketed as fertilizer and being used for gardening.

8. Food wastes cause 11 percent of the world’s emissions.


Global warming is beginning to plague mankind, and a significant part of the gases released by decaying food in landfills is responsible for both land degradation and climate change. The greenhouse gas emissions produced by the United States are equal to the emissions produced by 37 million automobiles. It is possible that if we continue on this rising trajectory, the repercussions will be really catastrophic. We must develop methods that will reduce food waste while still allowing us to maintain the inherent nutrients and freshness of the food we consume.

9. Each year the food supply chain wastes 45% of all produce, out of which 35% of seafood, 30% are of grains, and 20% are of meat and dairy products.


The results of this research demonstrate how various categories of goods have varying amounts of food waste. These are all perishable goods that are often thrown out after a short amount of time, which may be due to a lack of flexibility when purchasing, over-ordering, or other factors such as poor storage conditions. Any abrupt change in any situation, including the weather, may result in the spoilage of some goods, such as seafood and dairy products.


10.  Around 19,000 new food products placed on shelves that are not popular are likely to be discarded.

(Natural Resources Defense Council)

Every year, a significant number of goods are produced without a suitable market and then launched into the retail sector, where they are either unpopular or fail to sell. These unsuccessful products typically expire while still on the shelves and are thrown, contributing to the 40 percent of food that is wasted by merchants before it is ever put on the shelves.


It is undeniable that the retail industry generates an amazing quantity of food waste, but there are innovative approaches that may be used to reduce this waste. It is past time to abandon the old methods of dealing with food waste and instead embrace new possibilities and technologies, such as supermarket demand planning, in order to reduce food waste. If waste food is not correctly handled, it may wind up in landfills, where it can contribute to the release of greenhouse gases that are harmful to the environment. Squandered food from shops is valued at almost double the amount of profit made from food sales, and about one-third of the food on store shelves is wasted as a result of this practice. All new food items introduced onto the market that are not immediately successful result in 40 percent of the food being wasted by merchants before it is even sold. Big shops are beginning to utilize low-waste methods as promotional tools, and if they are done well, it is a zero-sum game for everyone.



Baker City Herald 


Natural Resources Defense Council










Natural Resources Defense Council

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