(WASHINGTON, DC) – The food industry has made significant strides in cutting food waste and is taking steps to reduce consumer confusion around product date labeling, an expert from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) told the House Agriculture Committee today.
Meghan Stasz, GMA’s Senior Director of Sustainability, testified at the hearing on behalf of the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA), a cross-sector group founded by the Food Marketing Institute, National Restaurant Association and GMA. Members of the Committee were looking to industry experts for background and guidance on food waste across the food supply chain. The hearing comes several months after the U.S. government set a goal to cut food waste in half by 2030 and one week after legislation was introduced to clarify dates on food labels and combat waste.
“The food industry has already stepped forward and and made considerable progress in reducing food waste,” Stasz said. “The founding of the Food Waste Reduction Alliance in 2011 brought together manufacturers, retailers, restaurants and food service companies. We work across sectors to identify sources of food waste, increase the amount of food sent to food banks and decrease what is sent to landfills, and help other food companies find ways they can make an impact."
GMA member companies have been working hard to minimize food waste by reducing the amount of waste being sent to landfills and donating food to those in need, she testified. In 2014, GMA companies recycled nearly 94 percent of the food waste generated from manufacturing and in 2015 donated over 800 million pounds of food to food banks.
“We know that more needs to be done, and our industry is taking new steps,” Stasz said. The boards of GMA and the Food Marketing Institute, which represents retailers, are making a renewed commitment this year to address product date labeling and reduce consumer confusion which can often lead to food waste.
Stasz emphasized that support and action across many groups and consumers is necessary to win the fight to reduce food waste in the U.S.
“There is no silver bullet solution for food waste; it needs to be tackled in a range of ways, and everyone has a role to play,” she said. “Consumers are responsible for 44 percent of food waste sent to landfills. If we’re going to make a serious dent in food waste as a nation, we need to find ways to help consumers reduce waste.”
Stasz cited statistics showing that confusion around product date labeling accounts for only about eight percent of total food waste sent to landfills by consumers. While product date labeling changes may result in reduced consumer food waste, the majority of food waste continues to be from consumers so clearing up this confusion must be just one of several ways to combat the issue of moving forward.
Stasz’s testimony can be found here.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is the trade organization representing the world’s leading food, beverage and consumer products companies and associated partners. The U.S. food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry has facilities in 30,000 communities, generates $1 trillion in sales annually, contributes $415 billion in added value to the economy every year and is the single largest U.S. manufacturing industry with 1.7 million manufacturing workers. Founded in 1908, GMA has a primary focus on product safety, science-based public policies and industry initiatives that seek to empower people with the tools and information they need to make informed choices and lead healthier lives.