Food-loss quantities and rates for retailers differ among fresh fruits
Not all the food that grocers receive ends up in consumers’ shopping carts. Food loss occurs when retailers remove misshaped produce items, overstocked holiday foods, and spoiled foods from their shelves. Rates of supermarket loss for 24 fresh fruits were estimated by comparing pounds of shipments received with pounds purchased by consumers for 2,900 U.S. supermarkets in 2011–12. Loss rates ranged from 4.1 percent for bananas to 43.1 percent for papayas. Greater perishability, as well as overstocking to manage uncertain or uneven demand, may contribute to higher loss rates. ERS researchers applied the 2011–12 loss rates to 2016 quantities of fresh fruits available for sale in retail stores to estimate retail level food loss. Pineapples and apricots had the second- and third-highest loss rates for fresh fruits, respectively. Pineapples also ranked relatively high in terms of the amount—or volume—of retail loss in 2016 (719 million pounds) due to the 2.2 billion pounds of fresh pineapples available for sale in retail stores that year. Loss volumes were highest for fresh watermelon and apples, reflecting the large quantities available for sale by retailers. In 2016, supermarket loss for the 24 fresh fruits totaled 6.7 billion pounds, or 4.7 billion pounds after removing the weight of nonedible pits and peels. Losses for fresh produce and other foods also occur in homes and eating places, such as when food spoils or is served but not eaten (plate waste). The statistics in this chart are from the 2016 ERS report, Updated Supermarket Shrink Estimates for Fresh Foods and Their Implications for ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data and the Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data series in the ERS Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System.
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