Earth Day & the future of produce waste

Another Earth Day is upon us, which brings into sharper focus the global agricultural challenges we face and the potential solutions to address them. In recent years, one of the hottest topics has been how we can curb the sky-high amount of global food waste.

The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that roughly one third of food produced globally is wasted each year (1.3 billion tonnes), with consumers in rich countries wasting nearly as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa! It’s a massive problem with no single solution, but the most wasted foods in affluent regions like North America certainly seems like a great place to start.Earth Day Apple

We’ve previously discussed how and why apples are among the most wasted foods, but want to focus here on a population segment that fits perfectly with the future-looking theme of Earth Day – children!

First the good news – it appears U.S. school kids are eating more produce than ever, and there’s tangible evidence that healthier eating habits are on the rise. The reverse of that coin is that increased availability of fruits and veggies is also leading to more waste. Food waste in U.S. schools is estimated to be over $1 billion annually, with produce contributing more than its fair share of that waste.

Nobody wants to reduce the amount of produce availability to children to cut down on this waste, but we think there’s a clear way to have the best of both worlds…

Cornell researchers have found that by simply pre-slicing apples that are served in school cafeterias, apple sales increased by 71% and “the percentage of students who ate more than half of their apple increased by 73%, an effect that lasted long after the study was over”. These sure are compelling numbers!!

Now let’s consider, which are the most suitable apples on the planet for serving pre-sliced? Here’s a hint: they’ll also reduce processing costs, lower the amount of treatments needed for freshcut apples, and better maintain their fresh taste, appearance AND their nutrients after slicing.

More good news? Arctic® apple approval is right around the corner; with USDA approval expected this spring!

About Joel Brooks

Growing up in the Okanagan, Joel had the opportunity to experience apple growing first hand, a background that lead him to his role as Product & Special Projects Manager. Joel feels privileged to work with such great people towards a goal that’s so easy to get behind – helping people to eat more apples.

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