The Last Food Mile Conference: Food Loss and Food Waste in the U.S. Supply Chain
When: December 8-9, 2014
Where: University of Pennsylvania, Houston Hall: Class of 1949 Auditorium, 3417 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA
- 133 billion lbs (31%) of available food is lost annually in the U.S. retail and consumer levels alone
- $161 billion retail value for the annual food loss
- 49 million Americans live in food-insecure households, including 16 million children
- Wasted food squanders our resources: land, water, energy, nutrients, biodiversity, results in pollution and increased food costs
Sustainably feeding 7 billion people now and 9 billion by 2050 is a daunting challenge. Reducing massive amounts of food waste is critical toward building sustainable food security in the world.
In an era of growing demand for more food, coupled with escalating production and environmental cost, dwindling natural resources, and international unrest, tackling food wastage is paramount to our future.
Waste occurs at the farm, the processing plant, the store, and the home. This conference brought together experts from national and international, academic and industrial, public and private sectors, to discuss:
- Where food losses occur along the food supply chain, why, and how much
- What food waste reduction measures work effectively, lessons learned and barriers encountered
- What policies and interventions are critically needed for moving forward
This event exemplifies the One Health initiative, which is dedicated to improving the lives of all species through the integration of human medicine, veterinary medicine, and environmental science.
PublicationSustainably Feeding Nine Billion: Challenges and Opportunities(2014-12-08) Cassman, Kenneth PublicationLast Food Mile Conference Survey Results(2014-12-10) Finn, Steven M.; Dou, ZhengxiaFollowing The Last Food Mile conference in early December, we surveyed well over 150 participants to assess their impressions of the event and to glean information to help us shape future work on food wastage across the U.S. supply chain. Approximately one third of those surveyed responded. PublicationCase Study: A Food Service Provider’s Holistic Approach to Sustainable Waste Management(2014-12-09) Cummings, ClaireBon Appétit Management Company (www.bamco.com), the University of Pennsylvania’s food service provider, operates more than 500 cafés corporations, universities, and museums in 32 states. Well known as a pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, Bon Appétit has developed programs addressing local purchasing, the overuse of antibiotics, sustainable seafood, cage-free eggs, the connection between food and climate change, farmworker welfare, and food waste reduction. Bon Appétit Waste Specialist Claire Cummings will share examples of both the company’s successes and challenges in fighting waste in the food system. Bon Appétit works first and foremost to prevent waste from happening in the first place. The company achieves source reduction through innovative programs such as Imperfectly Delicious, the first initiative of its kind to work with farmers to rescue imperfect, wholesome produce from going to waste through strategic purchasing and creative cooking. Bon Appétit strives for waste prevention in its kitchens and cafés through stem-to-root cooking techniques, waste tracking, trayless and other educational campaigns, and reusable to-go container programs. At University of Pennsylvania this past year, Bon Appétit was able to achieve a 99.3% reduction in disposable takeout containers for the 2013 to 2014 Academic Year, going from 171,000 clamshells to an impressive 1,167 clamshells used in Residential Dining Cafes. Bon Appétit believes that any food that is left over and still safe to eat after service should be donated to people in need rather than sent to a compost bin. Bon Appétit has been on the forefront of the national food recovery movement and has played an integral role in making food recovery a common practice on college campuses. The company has partnered with organizations such as the Food Recovery Network (FRN) to develop a universal guide to food donation for chefs and managers, and is proud to be the first business to get Food Recovery Certified, a new certification by FRN to recognize businesses that are donating their excess food to people in need. PublicationFood Recovery Hierarchy: Quantifying Food Recovery for the End Users(2014-12-09) Ferguson, JamesMunicipal landfills received 36.4 million tons of food waste in 2012, representing 14.5% of all municipal waste. Looking ahead to 2050 when the world population will exceed 9 billion people, the needed increase in food supply may exceed 70% of current supply. Reducing food waste could provide a significant buffer to help with world food supply. In addition, disposal of food waste to landfills is not a sustainable means of disposal. A priority in reducing food waste is diverting edible food to food banks and other institutions which can utilize edible food. However, for food not acceptable for humans and inedible residues may be effectively used as animal feed. Currently the US produces about 375 billion pounds of animal feed annually for pets, livestock, horses, and fish. About 25% of animal feed is derived from by-products of the oil, milling, rendering, and processing industries. A further hidden source of animal feed includes food refusals for shelf-life, packaging errors, blemishes, and other reasons. The food manufacturing sector reports it diverts about 30.6 billion pounds or 70% of total food waste to animal feed. The retail and wholesale industries divert about 14% of food waste or 0.53 billion pounds of food waste to animal feed. Significant barriers exist to using more food waste as animal feed. Barriers exist on the food manufacturing supply side and also on the nutritionist end user side of the relationship. Logistics of collection, transport, and storage create problems for both supplier and user as food waste contain a high water percentage and have poor stability, degrading easily with prolonged unrefrigerated storage. Regulations for food safety mandate only certain food items may be fed to certain animal species and specify heating requirements for safety. Nutritional variability and variability of supply make it difficult to use on a routine basis in many farm situations. Collection and processing prior to farm delivery would mediate much of the variability of nutrient content and supply, but would require an intermediate handling and processing facility to make more available as animal feeds. PublicationConclusions and the Road Ahead(2014-12-09) Dou, Zhengxia PublicationKeynote Presentation: Food, Water, and Energy(2014-12-08) Giegengack, RobertWhile blatant food waste late in the production chain is apparent to most of us, less apparent is the inefficiency of resource use in the processes whereby we produce, harvest, process, package, store, and deliver the food that we eat. We waste water: 72% of water “used” worldwide is applied directly to cropland, much of it via archaic technology. We move water from where it is plentiful to places where we imagine it will be more useful. We waste nutrients, even those that we know are in limited supply, by careless or excessive application. Effluent from fertilized cropland has contaminated soils, groundwater, streams, and vast areas of the ocean. We waste our wild fisheries by extraction beyond their capacity to recover, and by contaminating the water on which they depend. Exhaustion of marine fisheries was extensive before the first inventories were undertaken; thus, available baselines of fishery declines are not adequate to inform current management strategies. We waste energy by pumping irrigation water against gravity, and in every stage of the food industry. Today, the US food industry invests 10 calories of energy for every food calorie delivered to an American household. Surviving subsistence-agriculture societies deliver as much as 50 food calories for every calorie invested. Most of those invested calories today come from fossil hydrocarbons. We have largely eliminated natural ecosystems, replacing floral diversity with industrialized monoculture, and wild fauna with food animals, Fifty percent of the crops that we raise we use to feed food animals, which we then eat. We have not exploited opportunities to develop alternative food sources via hydroponic systems, aquaculture, insectivory, nutrient recycling, etc. In 1900 the Earth supported 1.6 billion people, many of them not well. Futurists of that time estimated that the carrying capacity of Earth was not higher than 2.5 billion people. Today we feed 7.2 billion people more calories/person than was the case in 1900, higher in the food chain, and on less land than was under cultivation in 1900. This has been achieved via development of a synthetic fertilizer industry, by selection of high-yielding crops, by energy-intensive cultivation practices, and, most recently, by genetic manipulation of food plants and animals. We have not extended the global carrying capacity by reverting to traditional agricultural practices. Even with these advances, we do not feed 7.2 billion people well. However, nutrition deficiencies are more the consequence of distribution inefficiencies than of inadequate supply. The systems that now produce food for 7.2 billion people can accommodate many more, as even newer technical advances are developed and implemented. But the most obvious and immediate strategy to feed the people we now have, and the people we expect, is to reform current practices to reduce waste in every stage of the food industry. The global food industry has come a long way. Rational analysis and judicious inventiveness can substantially advance the capacity of that industry to accommodate a larger human population. PublicationUrban Food Initiative: An Innovation in Recovering Food and Feeding the Poor(2014-12-09) Rauch, Doug PublicationPanel II: Consumer Level - Overview(2014-12-08) Birch, Eugenie L PublicationPsychological Basis of Food Wasting Behavior(2014-12-09) Rozin, PaulWhy do we waste food? One set of reasons is because it is so easy to do it. For most Americans, food is relatively cheap, and we are lazy. More importantly, we serve too much, so there are often leftovers. American portion sizes are much larger, than, for example, French portion sizes. A third, and perhaps the principal reason, is that there is something unsavory, for many people, about leftovers. They can be conceived of as “used” or “psychologically contaminated” food. Portion size and psychological contamination will be the focus of this presentation. PublicationRolling Harvest Food Rescue(2014-12-08) Snyder, CathyRolling Harvest Food Rescue began in 2009 when Founder and Executive Director Cathy Snyder began to volunteer at a food pantry in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Soon after, a bountiful farmers’ market opened up less than a mile away. Snyder quickly realized that she was able to enjoy the taste and benefits of the market products simply because she had a car and disposable income, a luxury many of the food pantry clients were lacking. Returning to the food pantry the following week, continuing to hand out yet more mac and cheese, high-sodium soups and bruised bananas to struggling, food-insecure families at their most vulnerable felt unacceptably unfair and wrong, and she knew she was going to find a better way. Fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables are simply out of reach financially for both the food pantries and the families they help. Paradoxically, the foods that most can afford are unhealthy foods with the least amount of nutrition, often leading to diabetes, high blood pressure and even obesity. Ms. Snyder saw that there were many local farmers and food producers who want to share their excess vegetables and fruits with neighbors in need, but lacked the time and staff it would take to ensure effective distribution. Additionally, food pantries and other hunger-relief social service sites often lacked volunteer help to collect the bounty from local farms. Rolling Harvest Food Rescue now fills this nutritional and logistical gap by collecting fresh produce and meats from these generous farms when it is most convenient for the farmer, growing long-term relationships with both the producers and the hunger-relief sites we serve. Rolling Harvest has now delivered more than one and a half million servings of locally grown, mostly organic fresh fruits and vegetables, including regular donations of organic healthy meats to food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, and senior housing sites throughout Bucks County in Pennsylvania and into Hunterdon and Mercer Counties in New Jersey. All economic indicators point to a persistent need for healthy food and help for 15-20% of our neighbors (children, seniors, and families) who continue to struggle with government cutbacks, lack of employment opportunities and a minimum wage that is not manageable. Rolling Harvest exists to increase access to fresh produce and healthy food choices for this portion of the population by effectively capturing and redistributing excess food resources from committed growers in the PA/NJ region.