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New Research Reveals Frozen Food’s Major Role in Food Waste Reduction

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With almost 40% of all food in the United States going uneaten, food waste is an important and relevant concern for many shoppers. Now, two new studies reveal that consumers turn to frozens to help reduce their food waste footprint at home. Publications from the Cornell University Dyson School of Business and market research firm 210 Analytics cast light on the lower waste rates of frozen food and how consumers are utilizing frozens to fight back against waste, respectively.

“As shoppers and policymakers alike look for ways to reduce food waste, new data show that freezing is an important solution,” said AFFI President and CEO Alison Bodor. “Freezing is nature’s pause button – preserving foods so families can benefit from the longer shelf life made possible. Whether enjoying frozen fruits and vegetables, pre-portioned meals and appetizers, or other meal ingredients, consumers rely on frozen food to provide flexibility in meal planning and a convenient way to reduce their food waste.”

A literature review conducted by Cornell University explored the rate of waste among frozen foods in grocery stores and households. This analysis of multiple studies affirmed that, in general, frozen foods are wasted less than their so-called fresh counterparts at both the retail and consumer levels. While the rates of food waste vary among different types of food, among the fruits and vegetables studied, the frozen products are typically much less likely to be discarded than the fresh equivalent.

The study also reported that, when refrigerated foods are discarded, it is commonly due to concerns about spoilage or excess leftovers. Freezing food can help to address these challenges by extending the shelf life of products and allowing families to prepare exactly what they need.

Adding to the library on food waste is a survey by 210 Analytics of more than 1,500 US consumers exploring concerns, attitudes and behavior related to wasting food and the value of buying frozen products or freezing food at home. Eighty-three percent of survey respondents agreed that buying frozen food is a good solution to limit the amount of food waste in their household. Consumers largely reported benefiting from the ability to prepare what they need with frozen food, and 79% of survey respondents reported that the ability to prepare exact portions is a purchase driver.

Consumers also reported that frozen ingredients provided additional meal flexibility, with nine in 10 frozen food consumers agreeing that frozen food allows having a backup plan without the risk of spoilage.

In addition to the environmental impact of wasting food, many shoppers acknowledge the financial impact. Among households eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), 86% indicated that they cannot financially afford to waste food and that frozen food ingredients help them save money because they are able to use the food over time.

“Reducing food waste isn’t just good for the planet, it’s good for the wallet,” added Bodor. “With the preservation made possible by freezing, consumers can avoid at-home spoilage of food ingredients and still adjust meal plans due to last-minute changes. This new data shows that when you want to cut back on food waste, the freezer is your friend.”

The reports are available online at www.frozenadvantage.org/less-waste.