In the United States, it is pretty clear we have a food waste problem. Companies like General Mills, along with Feeding America, recognize this problem and are doing what they can to donate to local food banks to reduce food waste. Government agencies are doing the same. USDA, EPA, and the FDA announced the signing of a joint agency formal agreement under the Winning on Reducing Food Waste initiative. The agreement is aimed at improving coordination and communication across federal agencies attempting to better educate Americans on the impacts and importance of reducing food loss and waste.
In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply. This figure, based on estimates from USDA’s Economic Research Service of 31 percent food loss at the retail and consumer levels, corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010. Wasted food is the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills and represents nourishment that could have helped feed families in need. Additionally, water, energy, and labor used to produce wasted food could have been employed for other purposes. Effectively reducing food waste will require cooperation among federal, state, tribal and local governments, faith-based institutions, environmental organizations, communities, and the entire supply chain.
While there have been significant actions taken and commitments made through public-private partnerships to date, such as the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions initiative, which aims to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030, there is still much work to be done. There are tremendous economic opportunities and possible cost savings for businesses and individual households that can result from reducing food waste. While businesses are a critical component of food waste reductions, consumer education is also key to the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative.
“An unacceptable percentage of our food supply is lost or wasted,” said Secretary Perdue. “As the world’s population continues to grow and the food systems continue to evolve, now is the time for action to educate consumers and businesses alike on the need for food waste reduction. I am pleased to be joined by my Trump Administration colleagues on this important, common sense issue. The future of food depends on action from us now, which is why we have established this formal partnership among USDA, EPA, and FDA.”
The agencies collectively look forward to hearing feedback from stakeholders about how they can work together at the federal level and leverage partners throughout the supply chain to have national impact on reducing food loss and waste in the long term. Initiatives like these will help continue to feed the projected nine billion in population by 2050.