Economic drivers of food loss at the farm and pre-retail sectors: A look at the produce supply chain in the United States

Travis Minor, Gregory Astill, Sharon Raszap Skorbiansky, Suzanne Thornsbury, Jean Buzby, Claudia Hitaj, Linda Kantor, Fred Kuchler, Brenna Ellison, Ashok Mishra, Tim Richards, Brian Roe, and Norbert Wilson
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Economic Research Service (ERS)

Peer review evidence on why it does not always make sense for farmers to harvest crops. This evidence is important in the fight against food loss and demonstrates that there are many problems requiring solutions from pubic private engagement. Challenges to harvesting include:

  • Price volatility
  • Labour cost and availability
  • Cold chain infrastructure
  • Aesthetic standards and customer preferences
  • Quality based contracts
  • Policy constraints
  • Challenges to estimating food loss on the farm and in pre-retail stages

Potential solutions are given on page 19 of the report, focusing on source reduction and redistribution. Business models geared towards either of these approaches will require effective partnerships and linkages between public and private actors.

This resource has been peer reviewed