Frozen Food Is an Important Tool to Meet the Nation’s Food Waste Goals

Food Chain Leaders Embrace Draft National Strategy for Reducing Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics, Propose Enhancements

Arlington, VA – A coalition of organizations representing the food chain stressed that frozen food should play a leading role in meeting the federal government’s sustainability goals in written comments filed in support of the proposed Draft National Strategy for Reducing Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics. The document was submitted by the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI), Global Cold Chain Alliance, Meat Institute, National Fisheries Institute, National Pork Producers Council and the Washington Red Raspberry Commission.

“Whether at the retail, foodservice or consumer level, frozen food helps prevent food loss and waste,” said Alison Bodor, AFFI President and CEO.  “The frozen food industry and our peers across the food chain applaud the Biden Administration for developing this strategy on a critical issue and look forward to working with the federal government to enact practical, effective solutions.”

In their comments, the organizations emphasized several important points and areas for enhancing the National Strategy, including:

  • Education: The organizations support a national consumer education and behavior change campaign to reduce food waste that showcases the ways frozen foods can help consumers achieve this goal.
  • Investment: An increased investment in expanding and modernizing the nation’s cold chain infrastructure will improve access to frozen food products – especially for underserved communities – and have a positive impact on food and nutrition security.
  • Health Equity: Consistent with the Draft Strategy’s goal of reducing barriers to improve food access and affordability, the federal government should recognize the role frozen food plays in supporting health equity.
  • Nutrition Security: Frozen foods provide a conduit to healthy eating. The freezing process naturally locks in nutrition, allowing consumers to easily access nutritionally dense food year-round. Moreover, studies show that frozen fruits and vegetables are as rich in nutrients as, and in some cases more so than, fresh-stored produce.
  • Research: The Draft Strategy should continue supporting research efforts that seek to identify best practices in collecting data about the level of consumer food waste.

Research shows that frozen food helps consumers reduce their amount of food waste. As it has a longer shelf-life and can be portioned, it reduces the likelihood that leftovers will go to waste. In a 2022 study conducted by AFFI, consumers reported that frozen foods help them reduce waste and save money, and that having frozen meal ingredients on hand helps to have more food in the house without risk of spoilage.

Frozen food also helps underserved populations access varied, balanced and nutrient-dense foods and saves them money due to the reduced food waste. Eight out of 10 respondents in a 2022 national survey who met eligibility requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) agreed that frozen fruits and vegetables make it easier to eat more produce, prevent food waste and help save money. Many SNAP-eligible households also separately identified that they cannot afford to waste food and reported that frozen foods help them save money because they are able to use the food over time without it going to waste.

Additionally, freezing reduces food loss and waste across the entire food chain, including losses occurring during post-harvest, processing and transportation. A 2023 critical review conducted by Cornell University found that, in general, frozen foods are wasted less frequently than their fresh counterparts at retail and in households.

“Frozen foods provide a clear benefit when it comes to sustainability, but that’s just part of the story. More than 95% of American households purchase frozen foods because they also offer benefits such as freshness, nutrition, safety, convenience and affordability. AFFI and our cold chain partners look forward to working with policymakers and a wide variety of stakeholders to highlight these benefits and help our country tackle food waste,” concluded Bodor.

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