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Economic Considerations in Evaluating Food Loss and Waste: Is Zero Optimal?

AAEA members publish in AEPP

The 2018 Farm Bill legislation specifies the establishment of a Food Loss and Waste liaison and calls for studies to reduce food loss and waste. On October 18, 2018, USDA, FDA, and EPA also jointly announced a food waste reduction initiative.

Three AAEA members co-authored research published in the Applied Economic Perspctives & Policy (AEPP), “Opportunities and Challenges in Conducting Economic Research on Food Loss and Waste.”

The authors say, “We should consider both economic efficiency and resource efficiency when choosing which food loss and waste reduction efforts to focus on. In particular, there is a difference between individual optimality and social optimality with regards to food loss and waste reduction.”

They continued, “Measuring food loss and waste is challenging, and different approaches are appropriate depending on the purpose of the measurement. It’s important to consider not only the benefits of reducing food loss and waste but also the costs. We introduce the notion that optimal levels of food loss and waste are not zero.”

The articles is available online for a limited time. If you are interested in setting up an interview with the authors; Mary Muth, Brenna Ellison, or Elise Golan, please contact Allison Scheetz in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit

Contact: Allison Scheetz
Senior Communications Manager
(414) 918-3190