Left-Out: An Investigation of Fruit and Vegetable Losses on the Farm

Approximately 40 percent of the U.S. food supply is never eaten. This is a missed opportunity to provide more food to those who need it as well as a massive waste of the resources required to produce that food. Data around how much food is lost on farms is particularly scarce. While the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO) estimates that 20 percent of the fruit and vegetable supply is lost during production, little information beyond that estimate is publicly available. As follow up to the initial Issue Paper, NRDC commissioned a survey in July 2012 to gain a better sense of the volumes of fruits and vegetables lost and the drivers behind those losses. This Issue Brief summarizes the results of that survey. Because of the small sample size, the findings should not be considered conclusive. However, they do offer an anecdotal snapshot of farm losses and indicate it is an issue that merits further investigation.