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The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States

39 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2014  

Jean C. Buzby

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS)

Hodan Farah-Wells

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS)

Jeffrey Hyman

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS)

Date Written: February 1, 2014

Abstract

This report provides the latest estimates by USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) on the amount and value of food loss in the United States. These estimates are for more than 200 individual foods using ERS’s Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data. In 2010, an estimated 31 percent or 133 billion pounds of the 430 billion pounds of food produced was not available for human consumption at the retail and consumer levels. This amount of loss totaled an estimated $161.6 billion, as purchased at retail prices. For the first time, ERS estimates of the calories associated with food loss are presented in this report. An estimated 141 trillion calories per year, or 1,249 calories per capita per day, in the food supply in 2010 went uneaten. The top three food groups in terms of share of total value of food loss are meat, poultry, and fish (30 percent); vegetables (19 percent); and dairy products (17 percent). The report also provides a brief discussion of the economic issues behind postharvest food loss.

Keywords: Food consumption, food loss, food recovery, food waste, foodservice, recycling

Suggested Citation

Buzby, Jean C. and Farah-Wells, Hodan and Hyman, Jeffrey, The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States (February 1, 2014). USDA-ERS Economic Information Bulletin Number 121. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2501659 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2501659

Jean C. Buzby (Contact Author)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS) ( email )

355 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024-3221
United States
202-694-5453 (Phone)
202-694-5688 (Fax)

Hodan Farah-Wells

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS) ( email )

355 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024-3221
United States

Jeffrey Hyman

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS) ( email )

355 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024-3221
United States

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