ReFED Releases 2022 Food Waste Forecast and Predicts More Than 300 Million Pounds of Food Will Go To Waste This Thanksgiving Alone

ReFED Releases 2022 Food Waste Forecast and Predicts More Than 300 Million Pounds of Food Will Go To Waste This Thanksgiving Alone

November 17, 2021

From Local Government Policy to Multinational Business Initiatives, ReFED Outlines What Trends to Expect in the Global Effort to End Food Waste 

ReFED, the leading national nonprofit working to end food loss and waste across the food system, today announced its 2022 Food Waste Forecast. Based on the organization’s extensive data and insights, the Forecast reveals predictions and expected solutions and trends as businesses, government agencies, funders, and others ramp up efforts to achieve national and international goals to reduce food waste by 50% by the year 2030.

With travel expected to skyrocket this holiday season as Americans gather for the first in-person events since before the pandemic, more than 305,000,000 pounds of food  — valued at more than $400,000,000  — will go to waste at this year’s Thanksgiving dinner alone. Production of this food generates greenhouse gas emissions of more than 1,100,000 MTCO2e or the equivalent of driving 169,000 cars for one full year; and has a water footprint of 104,000,000,000 gallons, which is the same amount of water used by everyone in New York City for three and a half months. 

Food waste has enormous impacts for the climate and natural resources, food security, and the economy. That’s why earlier this year, ReFED launched its Insights Engine, a data and solutions hub for food loss and waste, designed to provide food businesses, funders, solution providers, policymakers, and more with the information and insights they need to take meaningful action to reduce waste.

“Food waste is a complex, but solvable issue that requires engagement from everyone across the food system,” said Dana Gunders, Executive Director, ReFED. “From creating more public awareness, to technology innovation, to reevaluating waste-ridden business models, the topic of food waste is finally starting to take center stage. But a massive acceleration in effort is needed to reach the 2030 food waste reduction goals. That’s why we’re excited to see growing excitement around the space.” 

Findings from ReFED’s 2022 Food Waste Forecast: 

  • Businesses will step up to deliver on their food waste commitments. From retailers to grocers, many are recognizing that curbing food waste is good for the planet and good for business. Whether through initiatives such as 10x20x30 — which brings together 10+ of the world’s largest food retailers and providers, each engaging at least 20 suppliers to halve food loss and waste by 2030 — or reevaluating pandemic-impacted supply chains to focus on resilience, businesses are making clear efforts to tackle the issue – from adopting new technologies driven by AI and machine learning; evolving manufacturing processes to “upcycle” surplus food into new, quality products; proactively developing operational procedures to address food at risk of going to waste; and more. 
  • The intrinsic link between food waste and climate is becoming clearer and inspiring new global efforts. Food waste reduction is one of the top solutions for fighting climate change. In fact, food waste is a key driver of climate change, accounting for 4% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, as well as the depletion of environmental resources. New efforts are emerging to address this, and the topic of food waste is making its way onto the global stage at events like the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), where a Global Methane Pledge was announced to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030.
  • Food waste will become one of the most important ways to invest in climate change solutions  — and the deals for funding are getting bigger. Reducing food waste is not just a win for the planet; it can also be an attractive investment strategy with substantial ROI potential. While climate investments have historically focused on energy and recycling, food waste reduction is one of the most meaningful ways to make a difference. Funding around food waste is growing — from philanthropic dollars to venture capital — enabling organizations and early stage companies to scale up efforts. ReFED estimates that an annual investment of $14 billion over the next ten years can reduce food waste by more than 50% each year resulting in $73 billion in annual net financial benefit – a five-to-one return. Examples of big deals in 2021 include Lineage Logistics’ $1.9B expansion capital raise, Apeel’s $280M Series E raise, Misfits Market’s two later stage venture raises (Series C) totaling $425M, Do Good Food’s $169M in development capital and Bioenergy Devco’s $100M financing to support development of further anaerobic digestion facilities.
  • Government is getting on board with an increase of federal, state, and local food waste policies taking shape. States and other localities are recognizing the important role they play in driving and funding food waste solutions. For example, California’s SB1383, which will drastically increase food recovery through its mandates, takes effect in January 2022; food waste funding included in the Build Back Better Act currently awaits a Senate vote; and the bipartisan Food Recovery Caucus recently relaunched in Congress. 
  • More businesses are starting to measure food waste as the first step to adopting solutions to reduce it. Businesses and others that understand the importance of food waste reduction are realizing that they can’t manage what they don’t measure. Aided by new calculators that standardize measurement across industries and offer greater transparency, more businesses will specifically measure and report food waste. Additionally, regional collaborations like The Pacific Coast Food Waste Commitment (PCFWC) — one of the largest public-private partnerships dedicated to food waste reduction — are supporting businesses in gathering data and sharing it for better decision-making.

 

About ReFED

ReFED is a national nonprofit working to end food loss and waste across the food system by advancing data-driven solutions to the problem. ReFED leverages data and insights to highlight supply chain inefficiencies and economic opportunities; mobilizes and connects people to take targeted action; and catalyzes capital to spur innovation and scale high-impact initiatives. ReFED’s goal is a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food system that optimizes environmental resources, minimizes climate impacts, and makes the best use of the food we grow. For more information, visit www.refed.org.

ReFED is a national nonprofit working to end food loss and waste across the food system by advancing data-driven solutions to the problem. ReFED leverages data and insights to highlight supply chain inefficiencies and economic opportunities; mobilizes and connects people to take targeted action; and catalyzes capital to spur innovation and scale high-impact initiatives. ReFED’s goal is a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food system that optimizes environmental resources, minimizes climate impacts, and makes the best use of the food we grow.

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