Food Recovery Hierarchy: Quantifying Food Recovery for the End Users

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The Last Food Mile Conference
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Animal Sciences
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Municipal 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.

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