One-Third of Food Produced Is Wasted, Study Says

by | Jul 7, 2014

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Food WasteMore than one-third of all food produced in the US is wasted, according to a survey of consumers’ attitudes conducted by Sealed Air.

The company whose product lines include Bubble Wrap, Cryovac and Diversey commissioned the report to evaluate Americans’ food habits, sustainability practices, and overall awareness of food waste issues.

The study’s key findings show that while there is growing concern and awareness of how much food is wasted in the US, most American consumers still don’t consider their own households to be wasteful or a part of the problem: 67 percent say food waste is a concern; yet only 33 percent say food waste in their home is a concern.

While packaging plays a key role in preventing waste, the Sealed Air study also found that American consumers:

  • Associate packaging more with safety than waste;
  • See discarded packaging as worse for the environment than food waste and food that has minimal or no packaging being more environmentally friendly; and
  • Will often behave contrary to their beliefs (50 percent rewrap food into new packaging when they are home).

According to the Sealed Air study, more than one-third of the food produced in the US is never eaten. This translates into:

  • Fifty million tons of wasted food in the US;
  • Lost profits for farmers and producers and higher prices for consumers;
  • The use of 300 million barrels of oil per year, much of which could be re-allocated;
  • One-quarter of all freshwater consumption; and
  • A cost of $160 billion per year.

Food products’ date labeling variations leads to confusion, which may cause financial loss for stores and manufacturers, and contribute to “significant” food waste, according to a Walmart-funded scientific review paper published in this month’s issue of Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety.



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