Revisiting Seafood Waste: New Study Challenges Previous Notions

by Ella

A recent study, spearheaded by researchers from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), offers a fresh perspective on food loss and waste within the US aquatic foods sectors. Departing from previous estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, this comprehensive analysis delves into detailed data to provide a more nuanced understanding of the issue.

Professor Frank Asche, from the School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences and a corresponding author of the study, underscores the significance of this refined approach: “The method remains consistent, but our data delve deeper, shedding light on the intricacies of species consumption and the utilization of fish parts not typically exported but still utilized.”


Key findings reveal that approximately 80% of seafood consumed in the United States is imported. Drawing on interviews and secondary data from the United States, Vietnam, Norway, and other major seafood producers, the researchers focused on the top 10 fish species consumed in the US market over a four-year period from 2014-2018. Notably, previous studies overlooked the importance of species and supply chain characteristics.


In addition to providing an overarching estimate, the study pinpoints where food loss and waste occur within the supply chain, with primary production and final consumption stages emerging as focal points. According to James Anderson, a UF/IFAS food and resource economics professor and corresponding author, “Addressing waste entails more than mere quantity control; it necessitates optimal harvesting practices and waste reduction strategies to preserve quality and quantity throughout the process.”


Furthermore, the study highlights the role of aquaculture in the seafood industry’s evolution. With farmed fish accounting for half of global edible seafood production, there exists ample opportunity to bolster efficiency and resilience against prevalent challenges such as disease and water quality issues.


The evaluation of quality loss emerges as another crucial aspect in the battle against food waste. Unlike physical loss, quality loss occurs when products are sold at discounted rates due to inferior quality but are still usable.

Beyond dispelling previous notions of widespread food insecurity in the aquatic foods industry, the study offers actionable insights for waste reduction strategies, encompassing both regulatory measures and consumer education initiatives.

A closer examination of consumer behavior reveals that a significant portion of seafood waste occurs at the household level, with reasons ranging from overbuying to perceived quality issues. The study highlights consumers’ limited proficiency in handling, storing, and preparing seafood, underscoring the need for enhanced consumer education efforts to mitigate waste at its source.

In conclusion, this groundbreaking study not only challenges prevailing assumptions about seafood waste but also paves the way for targeted interventions aimed at fostering a more sustainable and resilient aquatic foods industry.



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