Coronavirus Food Waste: Farmers Are Throwing Out More Than Ever


Food waste is taking on a new meaning in the pandemic era.

Dumped milk in Wisconsin. Smashed eggs in Nigeria. Rotting grapes in India. Buried hogs in Minnesota. These disturbing images have stirred outrage around the world. But here’s the surprising part: the world may not actually be wasting more than normal, when a third of global food production ends up in landfills.

What’s changing now is that rather than being thrown out by consumers as kitchen waste, an unprecedented amount of food is getting dumped even before making it into grocery stores.

Blame broken supply chains. Across the globe, production is handled through what’s known as just-in-time methods. Output from farms can be shuttled into stores or restaurants within just a few days, and the next batch of crops and livestock is ready to take its place immediately.

When those chains face challenges — as has been the case with trucking, ports, labor crunches, restaurant shutdowns and slowed trade — there’s a huge backlog of supply that never makes it to stores.

That will likely have devastating consequences on food security. Prices could end up rising further as millions are already suffering financially from the Covid-19 fallout.

“People who can barely afford to feed themselves now will face even more problems,” said Marc Bellemare, a co-editor of the American Journal of Agricultural Economics. “What worries me is human welfare.” – READ MORE

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