Actionable solutions aren’t always readily available for pressing problems. However, when it comes to food waste, one solution can play a significant role: frozen food. Forty percent of food goes to waste every year in America. As with other waste reduction strategies, frozen foods can improve resource conservation, help feed a growing world and ensure more people have access to affordable, safe, and nutritious foods.
Frozen foods can improve resource conservation, help feed a growing world and ensure more people have access to affordable, safe, and nutritious foods.
Recently, several policymakers have started to take action. There are state bans on food waste, innovative efforts by companies to develop new products from food waste, and federal programs to address the problem. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a 2030 Food Loss and Waste Reduction Goal to reduce food loss and waste by half and a Food Recovery Challenge to incentivize organizations.
Sources of Food Waste and Solutions Provided by Frozen Foods
Multiple sources contribute to food waste, including household food waste. Whether produce is discarded because it doesn’t meet aesthetic standards or spoils, frozen food can offer options that have a long shelf life, provide convenience not always found with fresh options, and make healthy choices more accessible to those who are food insecure.
Household Food Waste
Households waste 76 billion pounds of food per year—the most considerable portion of all food waste. Approximately two-thirds of food waste at home is due to food not being used before it goes bad, especially fresh produce. Frozen food provides extensive produce options that can help eliminate food spoilage. Research shows that frozen foods can generate 47 percent less household food waste.
Stretch Your Food Dollar
Food waste also has a significant impact on a family’s budget. The average American family throws out an estimated 25 percent of the food and beverages they buy, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), totaling between $1,350 and $2,275 per year for a family of four. This is a significant budget impact, especially for families who are food insecure.
Another significant contributing factor to food waste is the desire for produce that’s aesthetically pleasing. Unfortunately, many consumers erroneously believe that so-called “ugly” fruit and vegetables are of lower quality, less tasty, and less healthy. As a result an estimated $15.4 billion in edible produce is discarded annually by retailers in the U.S. In addition, up to about 30 percent of farmers’ crops are deemed unfit for sale in supermarkets.
Frozen foods eliminate the “ugly” produce rejection by chopping or pureeing it before freezing, making its appearance a non-issue. As a result, produce that may have otherwise been deemed “ugly” and wasted can provide farmers with usable crops and families with nutritious produce.
Some perceive frozen food to be less nutritious than fresh food. This belief can contribute to household food waste when fresh foods spoil. In reality, frozen fruits and vegetables are equally as healthy and sometimes contain even more nutrients than fresh-stored produce because they’re picked and frozen at peak ripeness, preserving them in their most nutritional state. In addition, the convenient thing about frozen foods, especially fruits and vegetables, is that you can typically store them for longer compared to their fresh equivalent, increasing the odds that these nutritious products will be consumed.
As we continue to work together to ensure people have access to affordable, safe, and nutritious foods, it’s time to remember that frozen foods can help reduce food waste.