GLRPPR Sector Resource: Crop Shrink: Drivers of Fruit and Vegetable Loss at Production
Crop Shrink: Drivers of Fruit and Vegetable Loss at Production
The confluence of exemplary growing conditions, innovative agronomy practices, and access to markets has positioned the U.S. as a leader in providing nutritious fresh produce and fruit to the world. The notable gains in productivity realized by the sector in the past thirty years will need to continue, and in fact increase over the next three decades in order to feed a growing population and meet the rising caloric demands of an increasingly affluent population. Historically, increases in volume have been realized through augmentation of the amount of land in production. However, the limited amount of arable land remaining for cultivation dictates that the projected surge in demand be met through increases in productivity and efficiency. In order to identify and address opportunities for increased efficiency in the agricultural value-chain it is helpful to change the yield metric from pounds harvested per acre to pounds converted to human nutrition per acre. By shifting focus to the true objective of food production, feeding people, it is easier to appreciate the significant amount of shrink that occurs between the field and the plate. Getting a higher percentage of the crops available for harvest onto the plate is an effective way to feed a growing population, using the same amount of land, without requiring an increase in inputs such as fertilizers, agrochemicals and water and their associated environmental impacts. This research report adds to the current body of knowledge surrounding how much safe, edible produce is available for harvest but never reaches retail or food service customers, why these crops are diverted, and what appropriate next steps can be taken to reduce the volume of these diverted crops.
Natural Resources Defense Council
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