With economic and climatic vulnerabilities proving to be a significant burden on the trucking industry this year, it is as good a time as any to discuss a crucial, yet conspicuously under-discussed component facing the farming, trucking and logistics community the world over. We’re talking about the substantial rate of food wasted on its way from farm to market to table and everywhere in between. Here at Scout Logistics we thought we would take it upon ourselves to get you up to speed with some of the basics concerning food waste and its overall impact on our industry as well as the rest of the nation, and planet.
According to a 2012 report by the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) estimates of up to 40% total loss have been made concerning the overall portion of food wasted. This would work out to about $165 billion of food wasted annually. Not to mention the fact that a sizable portion of this waste ends up in landfills, having benefited nobody. The NRDC report went on to suggest that a reduction of such food loss by merely 15 percent would be sufficient to provide food enough to feed in excess of 25 million Americans annually, which would serve as an extraordinarily fortuitous bonus at a time when one in six Americans currently lack a steady supply of food to their tables.
Beyond the economical strain imposed by the problem, the issue is also to do with the unwarranted climate footprint created by such waste. Uneaten food waste that ends up rotting away in landfills serves as the single largest component of U.S. municipal solid waste and accounts for a large portion of the country’s overall methane emissions.
So then, with significantly shorter harvest seasons being seen for many fruits and vegetables across the continent, and market prices reaching decade highs, how and why the hell are we incurring and tolerating a loss of almost half of our food through waste?
One major reason, is the unfortunate situation that can occur when there is a large discrepancy between supply and demand, or a miscommunication between manufacturers and merchants. In the case of the latter, supermarkets may anticipate an excess of demand for a particular product, or produce item and make overestimates in forecasts only to lower the final amount requested 24 hours before delivery. In such instances the manufacturer is of course left with a massive surplus of unused goods that often go straight to the landfills. In these situations manufacturers should consider working with retailers willing to buy excess inventory at discount prices such as Grocery Outlet. The sales may not be as lucrative, but at least don’t turn out to be an ultimate bust, and ultimately work towards decreasing unnecessary waste.
When it comes to specifics regarding cold chain waste, it is important that as members of the logistics industry we do everything we can on all levels of the supply chain to ensure food doesn’t go to waste. Making sure we keep up to date with the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and ensuring rigs are maintained properly with up to date storage and refrigeration units so as to ensure loads are kept farm fresh while in transport.
Here at Scout Logistics we like to take a holistic approach to our industry and subsequently helping to remove the strain of food waste is certainly something of great importance to us. Unfortunately, we were only able to scratch the surface of the manifest ways in which food is being wasted, but you can take a look at the comprehensive 2012 NRDC Report here. For further information on how you and your company can help yourselves and the rest of the world avoid the hazards of food waste and decrease carbon footprint, you can visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s website and even take part in the Food Recovery Challenge.Posted by