If you like to eat fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, then you are part of the perishable food business. Though we don’t often refer to it as “the perishable food business” the fresh food industry is important to the foundation of our consumption of foods as a country. the perishable food business provides us with things like fresh produce, meats, and cheeses, and is worth about 10% of the global GDP. The perishable food business, including agriculture and farming, that focuses on specialty products has increased in popularity in recent years, rising by about 15 percent in the two years between 2014 and 2016.
Direct store delivery is common in the perishable food industry, as the majority of people buy their food at a grocery story – and, in fact, food purchases make up nearly fifteen percent of the average household budget in the United States. But delivering perishable goods is not always easy, and it takes up about 10% of energy use. It also uses up a considerable amount of water – 80% of our freshwater – and around half of our total land. Add to this that produce can become lackluster, wilted, and bruised over the course of long transports, and more than 60% of all shoppers would prefer if their nearby supermarkets were to stock more local perishable foods. Similar reasons have pushed the growth of farmers’ markets as well, with more and more people looking to shop local and support farms in their area.
Food waste is another problem in the perishable foods operation. Perishable foods, of course, perish, and thus cannot be stored for indefinite or even extended amounts of time. Perishable foods are often difficult to sell if they are not cosmetically pleasing and have physical defects like bruising or an odd shape, even if the product is still good for consumption. Food waste is a problem in the individual American home as well, with the typical family in the United States wasting around $2,000 of discarded perishable food every single year. There are a number of food solutions involved with preventing and reducing food waste, from gardens that implement a compost system to companies that sell only produce that has been deemed unsellable by larger grocery store chains.
Perishable food is an important part of our lives. After all, fruits and vegetables are so good for us that we should try to eat at least a few servings of them every single day. But the perishable food industry is not without fault, from food waste to wasted energy, and food solutions should be implemented whenever possible to prevent these negative affects.