The total amount of food wasted in the U.S. has leveled off since 2016, while food waste per capita has decreased 2 percent over the last three years, according to ReFED’s newly launched data hub, the Insights Engine. But more must be done to meet the country’s goal of cutting food waste by 50 percent by 2030.
First announced last year, the Insights Engine is an online hub for data and analysis related to the global food waste problem. Among the other findings ReFED released today:
- In 2019, 35 percent of food went uneaten or unsold. That’s the equivalent of throwing away $408 billion or 1.9 percent of U.S. GDP.
- More than 50 percent of waste at the farm level is from food that does not get harvested but is perfectly edible.
- Seventy percent of food waste at restaurants and foodservice businesses comes from customers not finishing their meals.
- At-home food waste remains the largest generator of food waste in the U.S.
ReFED estimates that an annual investment of $14 billion will be needed to implement the kinds of solutions that will reduce food waste by 45 million tons annually. The Insights Engine reviews over 40 of these solutions, analyzing them based on things like net economic benefit, greenhouse gas emissions reduced, jobs created, and meals recovered. The Engine also provides a directory of organizations helping fight food waste, a tool that tracks current and upcoming food waste policies, and an “impact calculator” that puts into numbers the impact of food waste on the climate, economy, and population.
Roughly 1.3 billion tons of edible food worldwide goes to waste each year, and experts predict this number will jump to 2.1 billion by 2030. Solutions to this problem span everything from food rescue companies to technologies for preservation, cold storage, harvest and post harvest, and many other ideas, tools, and processes.
As a companion to the Insights Engine, ReFED also released its “Roadmap to 2030” framework today, which will help the organization implement the solutions found in the Insights Engine. It outlines seven “key action areas” for fighting food waste over the next 10 years, and also includes a financial analysis of where investments (public, private, philanthropic, and capital) should be directed.