Food Waste: Farms, distributors, retailers, and households

Stephen F. Hamilton, Timothy J. Richards, Brian E. Roe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


At virtually all points in the food supply chain, the amount of food loss is substantial, leading to increased attention on policies to address food waste. In this chapter, we develop an economic framework to help explain why food is lost at each point in the supply chain, identify locations in the food distribution system responsible for the largest shares of food waste, and develop policies that may be helpful in mitigating food loss and eliminating food waste. Throughout this chapter, we emphasize the core insight that food loss, which occurs when food becomes unfit for human consumption, and food waste, which occurs when food that is still fit for human consumption is discarded, do not necessarily imply market failure. That said, food loss and food waste at current levels represent a substantial departure from the socially optimal resource allocation, and developing policies that leverage the power of economic incentives may be successful in reducing both food loss and food waste in an otherwise well-functioning food system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Agricultural Economics
EditorsChristopher B. Barrett, David R. Just
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages51
ISBN (Print)9780323988858
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Publication series

NameHandbook of Agricultural Economics
ISSN (Print)1574-0072


  • Food waste
  • Household production
  • Quality standards
  • Retailing
  • Supply chain management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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