Measuring food waste at the individual household level has been nearly impossible because comprehensive, current data on uneaten food do not exist. By using food acquisition data, this article employs a new approach to estimating household-level food waste via a stochastic production frontier model in which food waste is identified as input inefficiency. For households in our data, the average household wastes 31.9% of the food it buys, and this figure, using survey weights, translates to annual U.S. consumer-level food waste valued at $240 billion. In addition, by accommodating heterogeneous wasting behavior, we find that healthier diets and higher income lead to more household food waste, whereas lower household food security, food-assistance program participation, and larger household sizes are associated with less food waste.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Economics and Econometrics