Why do grocery stores throw out food?

About 80 billion pounds of food from grocery stores gets dumped by grocery stores every year, in America alone.

If you feel bad about that breakup, just think of how those poor food items feel.

Grocery store food items

The statistics are saddening, especially since these food items are perfectly fine and could easily be donated.

So why do grocery stores throw food away?

Let’s find out. 

Why do grocery stores have to throw away food?

Grocery stores throw away food when they’re close to their expiry dates.

This is done to prevent customers from getting food poisoning from expired food items.

So while you may think donating all that food to the streets is an act of kindness, it could actually be endangering someone’s life.

Food donation

In the long run, this could put grocery  stores at risk of being sued. Thus, starting a controversial war against yet another big corporation to rack up millions.

In the end, grocery stores are looking out for not just the public, but for themselves.

It’s a win-win situation for both sides, but certainly not for the environment.

How do supermarkets contribute to food waste?

By throwing away food, grocery stores impact the environment and contribute to global warming more than you’d imagine.

One-third of wasted grocery food end up in landfills, resulting in high levels of carbon emissions.

The kind as intense as what comes out of your car or generators.

A landfill

Sadly, supermarkets don’t keep track of their waste, making it difficult to determine the exact figures and gather the necessary data for resolving the issue.

Additionally, grocery stores contribute to waste by overstocking, especially when they have a limited number of outlets spread across a region.

What do grocery stores do with food waste?

Usually, grocery stores donate food to food banks or shelters, who in turn give them out to homeless or hungry people.

Some grocery stores cook food items close to their expiry dates, and sell them out to customers.

But most times, the food items end up in landfills because grocery store owners would rather throw away food than risk giving anyone food poisoning from their expired products.

This can attract a heavy lawsuit against the store, causing them to lose a lot of money.

Do supermarkets donate to food banks?

Yes, supermarkets donate to food banks.

More interestingly, some food banks and homeless shelters accept the donation of expired food items.

A food bank containing food items

However, these items have to be non-perishable.

So that means your peanut butter, syrups and canned goods get accepted, but cooked grains, tomatoes and yogurt end up on the reject pile.

Still, grocery stores are scared to donate food to avoid lawsuits that’ll arise if someone should ever fall sick from their items.

Though the Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act protects grocery owners from situations like that, no one wants to take that risk.

But from our research, here are some of the best and worst donation dedicated grocery stores:

Stores that consistently donate food

  • Walmart
  • Whole Foods
  • Kroger
  • Aldi
  • Target

Stores that throw away food the most

  • Publix
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Costco

What can restaurants and grocery stores do to waste less food?

Grocery stores and restaurants can reduce the amount of food waste they produce by tracking the waste.

Placing mouthwatering discounts on grocery items will also bring significant reduction to the level of food waste.

It will encourage the fast sellout of the store’s inventory.

Grocery store fruits

Additionally, most store owners are under their illusion that customers will flock in when they see an abundance of food items on their shelves.

However, it doesn’t matter how much produce you have if you don’t understand what your customers want. 

And so there’s a need for grocery stores to focus less on high stacked food pyramids and more on collecting mostly food items in high demand.

Did you find our answer to why grocery stores throw away food satisfactory? If you did, then be sure to check out these other guides. They can come in handy: