Food Consumption vs. Food Waste in the USA

Posted on January 7, 2013 by

Food Consumption vs. Food Waste in the USA:
Thought Provoking Statistics…..


The average person in the USA eats about 4.7 pounds of food per day! At the same time, USA consumers waste between 9 and 11 ounces of food per day. This means that the per capita food consumption is about 1716 pounds per year and the per capita waste is about 228 pounds or 13%.

It is also reported that the statistics for food consumption and food waste are about the same for European consumers.

Our source ( cited below*), makes the distinction between food waste, defined as food loss occurring at the end of the retail chain (retail and final consumption), and those food losses which result in a decrease in amount of edible products intended for human consumption. Food losses take place at production, postharvest and processing. Food waste occurs at both the retail and consumer level.

Numerous additional scholarly references can be cited to argue that these losses are significantly higher than the estimates we have related. Nevertheless, the point remains: quite a bit of food is lost from “field to fork”. These are significant losses. They occur in the food production/delivery chain and they occur at the retail/consumer level.

The Dawson Company’s clients provide food preservation technology for each level of the food production/delivery chain. Our clients also provide food preservation technology at the retail consumer level.

Our client, Aqua-Tech, reduces postharvest produce losses through ozone driven sanitation. Aqua-Tech’s ozone sanitation technology directly increases the amount of fresh produce delivered to market.

Our client, It’sFresh!, extends the quality of fruit on the shelf at retail including berries, stone fruit, tomatoes and avocados, to name a few. Reducing waste through the control of the natural ripening agent, ethylene, It’sFresh! extends quality in-store and at home where quality typically breaks down quickly. Thus, the consumer enjoys a positive shopping experience and enjoys the wonderful fruit in-home.

*Global Food Losses and Food Waste, Extent, causes and Prevention: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, 2011

All the best,
Art Dawson, PH.D.
The Dawson Company

Produce Quality & Food Safety
And Speaking of Consumers…..

The responsibility to maintain food quality extends to the consumer. Producers and packers can work tirelessly to enhance food quality, but if the consumer doesn’t participate, the quality may be lost. And guess who gets the blame!

Some producers and packers utilize “sell by” and/or “use by” dates, but most don’t apply such to fresh fruits and vegetables. Nor do producers and packers provide information regarding the proper in-home storage procedures for their commodities. And they shouldn’t have to do so.

Consumers should educate themselves regarding the foods they consume. The “use by” dates seem to be taken as the final word by consumers, with all sorts of foods unceremoniously dumped in the garbage just because the magic date has arrived. On the other hand, complaints are filed because the food is spoiled even though the magic date hasn’t arrived. Consumers need to realize that these dates are best guesses and not cast in stone. And if it’s a sealed package and it is opened, then all bets are off. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I don’t see the need for these dates. Consumers need to accept a little responsibility for their own life! Okay, that’s enough philosophy for now.

Below are some recommendations that can be easily found by consumers, and maybe even passed on to consumers by the producers/packers.

  • Clean your reusable food transport bags.
  • Wash your hands before preparing foods, and between different types of foods.
  • Store fruits separate from vegetables.
  • Keep fruits and vegetables separated from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Store raw meats and eggs below fruits, vegetables and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Don’t use a hanging kitchen towel.
  • Don’t use the same cutting board for fruits and vegetables that is used for raw meats.
  • Don’t store fruits and vegetables in sealed plastic bags.
  • Don’t wash fruits and vegetables before placing in the refrigerator – moisture encourages spoilage.
  • Clean your refrigerator.
  • Don’t leave items in the refrigerator until they look like a science experiment and then wonder why the commodity next to it spoiled.
  • Then clean your refrigerator again.
  • Keep the refrigerator temperature between 37 – 40 degrees F.
  • Get a refrigerator thermometer.
  • There are different refrigerator storage durations for different fruits and vegetables. Go to the internet and easily find them. Takes about five minutes.

Salt Lake Valley Health Department
Clemson University Cooperative Extension
Texas A&M University
Colorado State University

Until Next Time,


Hartono and Company LLC
Produce Quality & Food Safety