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Fighting Food Waste With Taxes

AAEA member research looks into new proposals to fix growing problem

Americans waste food. In fact, studies show more than 20 percent of food available to consume in the U.S. goes to waste.

This isn’t just an issue of throwing uneaten food into the garbage can; there are environmental concerns and problems surrounding food security that play a role in the food waste mess.

“People will buy more food they are going to eat so they won’t have to go back to the store again,” says Michael Wetzstein of Purdue University, “but they aren’t thinking about the issues surrounding food waste.”

Wetzstein and Bhagyashree Katare, also of Purdue, are co-authors of “Optimal Food Waste: Taxes and Government Incentives”, a paper selected to appear in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics – available online today.

Some U.S. cities are using taxes and government incentives to try to fight food waste, and a bill in Congress right now proposes a variety of solutions to reduce U.S. food waste by 50 percent.

How might American households respond to getting hit in the pocketbook if they don’t finish what’s on their plate? To see this paper, and to schedule an interview with one of the authors, please contact Jay Saunders 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 20 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

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