The food waste solution that isn’t getting enough attention
Food waste is costing the average American family thousands of dollars each year. Are we focusing on the right solutions?
About 40 percent of the food that is produced in the United States never gets eaten. It’s not just a waste of food- all the water, labor, energy, and inputs that went into growing that food is wasted too — about $162 billion lost every year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And it’s not just costing us previous resources like water and energy, it’s hitting us at home.
On average, American families throw out 25 percent of the food they purchase, losing between $1,350 and $2,275 worth of food every year. While I love the apps and technology that are launching every day to combat this problem- it’s become common for us to overlook the original method of fighting food waste: freezing.
As it turns out, amazing women like Mrs. Stouffer were ahead of their time. Freezing food is the most natural way of preserving it, and frozen food generates 47 percent less food waste at home than non-frozen food. Frozen food can fundamentally change major challenges like food waste, portion control, nutrition transparency, and time poverty.
Even before it gets to your grocery store, frozen food is an exceptionally efficient way to eat. There is low waste at every point of food’s journey, from farm to fork. The ingredients in frozen food are also great to support the Ugly Fruit & Veg movement that aims to reduce the amount of perfectly good produce that is thrown out for aesthetic reasons. While ‘ugly’ produce with unusual shapes can be difficult for retail grocery stores, companies like ours can rescue these foods to serve as an ingredient in frozen foods where they may be chopped or pureed.
Giving clear information
When you eat frozen foods, you know exactly what you are eating from portion size to calories to nutrients on the Nutrition Facts Panel. Having clear information about your meal down to sauces and spices can be empowering, especially for consumers who are focused on limiting specific nutritional areas like sodium, a major area where we’ve invested in providing better options. This could be one reason that time-crunched consumers who eat frozen meals (instead of food from quick-service restaurants) had better diet quality for vegetables, legumes, protein, and whole grains, as well as consuming fewer calories and less saturated fat.
Making meals accessible
While lowering waste can benefit all of us, when it comes down to purchasing decisions, frozen foods offer something that resonates with consumers much more. In a 2017 survey on food behavior, consumers said that convenience and time saved are more important than safety or food waste benefits for packaged foods. The reality is that time is at a premium for families. Even if we had more time in the week, most people want to spend time together instead of spending more time in the kitchen. Freezing means that we can make a whole lasagna, down to the fresh pasta, and keep it ready for consumers to share with their families. If we can give families time back in their day to enjoy their meals together by making their food preparation as efficient as possible, that may be the most important benefit we can offer in creating nutritious, balanced frozen meals.
Ultimately, freezing is one critical tool that helps fresh food stay fresh.
To learn more, visit How Fresh Stays Fresh.