Homework Question on Food Loss and Food Waste in the US and Beyond
- In this 1-page reflection, summarize the main drivers of food loss in the United States.
- Then, compare and contrast the differences in food waste/loss between medium and high income countries and low income countries.
- Reflecting upon the readings, what is most surprising to you about food waste?
Homework Answer on Food Loss and Food Waste in the US and Beyond
The highest percentage of food loss and waste in the US occurs at the end of the supply chain. The main drivers of food loss in the US at the production or farm level include pests, insects, rodents, extreme weather and poor harvesting methods. Other drives include government regulations and standards that reject some farm produce and wrong predictions of consumer demand. High quality standards and preferences by buyers and poor management of by-products contribute to food loss at the production level.
At the retail level, poor packaging, overstocking, inadequate storage, and out-grading in attempts to meet consumer standards lead to food loss. The drivers of food loss at the consumption level include misinterpretation of “best-before” and “use-by” labels, kitchen leftovers, poor preparation and storage methods and seasonal factors. Others include personal preferences, tastes, and attitudes towards foods, and government standards and regulations, and lack of awareness (Buzby and Hymann 563; Reich and Foley 2).
Food loss and food waste trends differ across countries based on their income levels. In high and medium income countries, the highest percentage of food loss and wastes occurs at the end of the supply chain, that is, at the consumption level. In low-income countries, the highest percentage of food waste and loss is recorded at the start of the supply chain, that is, at the production level. The main drivers of food wastes and loss differ in the two categories of countries.