Data on fresh fruit and vegetable shrink in supermarkets is important to help understand where and how much shrink could potentially be reduced by supermarkets to increase their profitability. This study provides: (1) shrink estimates for 24 fresh fruits and 31 fresh vegetables in U.S. supermarkets in 2011 and 2012; and (2) retail-level food loss. For each covered commodity, supplier shipment data was aggregated from a sample of 2900 stores from one national and four regional supermarket retailers in the United States, and this sum was then compared with aggregated point-of-sale data from the same stores to estimate the amount of shrink by weight and shrink rates. The 2011–2012 average annual shrink rates for individual fresh vegetables varied from 2.2 percent for sweet corn to 62.9 percent for turnip greens and for individual fresh fruit ranged from 4.1 percent for bananas to 43.1 percent for papayas. When these shrink estimates were used in the Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data series, annual food loss for these commodities totaled 5.9 billion pounds of fresh fruit and 6.1 billion pounds of fresh vegetables. This study extends the literature by providing important information on where and how much shrink could potentially be reduced. Precise comparisons across studies are difficult. This information, combined with information on available and cost-effective technologies and practices, may help supermarkets target food loss reduction efforts though food loss will never be zero.
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