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How much food are you tossing every day?

Friday, April 20, 2018   (0 Comments)
Business Journal

Anne Stych



The average U.S. consumer throws away about a pound of food a day, mostly composed of decomposing produce. But retail statistics show that shoppers are following a trend that could potentially reduce some of that waste — they’re returning to the frozen foods aisle.

A new study from the University of Vermont found that U.S. consumers wasted nearly 150,000 tons of food per day between 2007 and 2014, about 30 percent of total calories. Data for the study was gathered from a U.S. Department of Agriculture national database.

And when they toss that uneaten food in the trash, consumers are wasting not only money and calories but also environmental resources. Thirty million acres of land and 4.2 trillion gallons of water are wasted growing food that’s thrown away, CBS News reported.

The study, published in the journal PLOS, also found that people with healthier diets were most likely to throw away food — because they are also the ones most likely to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, which have a short shelf life. 

Fruits and vegetables make up 39 percent of food waste, followed by dairy products at 17 percent, and meat and mixed-meat dishes at 14 percent.

Researchers said educating consumers on food storage and the difference between spoiled and simply bruised produce could reduce some of the waste. 

Scientists also are developing sensors and packaging that changes color when food is spoiled so people know when it’s really time to toss that browning avocado. 

The study’s authors pointed out that it’s important that efforts to reduce food waste don’t ignore food safety, stressing that "spoiled food is a health risk."

Another answer to the spoilage problem could be a return to using more frozen foods. A recent RBC Capital Markets report said the overall growth of the frozen food category is accelerating as consumers again accept freezing as a good way to preserve food without losing flavor. 

The report said frozen food companies are beginning to offer the "whole food” and "superfood” attributes that millennials demand, using quick-freeze technology that retains freshness and flavor for months.

Adding to the appeal is the convenience of "steam-in-bag” frozen foods that mean no-mess preparation. reports that volume growth in frozen foods is up for the first time in five years. Meals and appetizers make up 35 percent of frozen foods, and sales in that category are up 3 percent. 

Another reason for the growth? Those pints of yummy low-fat ice cream.

In an analysis of "center aisle” visits to grocery stores, sales of value-priced frozen dinners drove a 24 percent increase in trips while dollar sales increased 33 percent. 

And those delightful yet semi-healthy eat-it-all-in-one-sitting frozen desserts? Shoppers spent an average of $21.37 last year on nonfat and low-fat ice cream, and consumers following heart-healthy diets spent more than double that at $56.76, per Marketwatch.

The low-fat and nonfat ice cream subcategory drove more than half a million new store trips last year as sales increased by 67 percent.

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