Contractor and Cooperator Reports No. (CCR-70) 136 pp

March 2019

Expert Panel on Technical Questions and Data Gaps for the ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability (LAFA) Data Series

The Economic Research Service’s (ERS’s) Loss-Adjusted Food Availability (LAFA) data series is derived from ERS’s Food Availability (FA) data by adjusting for food spoilage, plate waste, and other losses to more closely approximate actual intake. ERS refers to the LAFA data series as preliminary and recognizes the need to systematically update and improve the loss assumptions underlying the LAFA per capita availability estimates. The goal of this project was to develop recommendations to improve the integrity, transparency, and validity of the LAFA data series and build on lessons learned from prior efforts. The overall objective was to research and recommend workable, concrete solutions to technical questions underlying the data and to close data gaps. In collaboration with RTI International, a team of four academic experts reviewed background materials, examined current data, searched for and analyzed alternative data sources, and developed recommendations for the set of technical questions and data gaps provided by ERS. The expert panel prioritized the recommendations based on their assessment of ease of implementation and the effect on improving the LAFA data series.

The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Economic Research Service or USDA.

Keywords: Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System, loss-adjusted food availability data series, LAFA, expert panel, technical questions, data gaps, supermarket shrink, inedible food portions, food loss, food at home, food away from home, consumer-level losses, commodities

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