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The Association Between Food Surplus Costs and Retail Prices

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-05-16, 13:32 authored by Ethan Ziegler

Little research exists on the relationship between food surplus costs and retail prices. The United States (U.S.) spends about $2 trillion each year on food, with the total value of all surplus food surmounting $400 billion. In most industries, surplus has a negative correlation with price; however, available data demonstrates that increases in food surplus costs follow similar trends to increases in prices. This study aims to assess surplus costs at the retail level of the supply chain, combining them with data on the defined factors influencing food costs including agribusiness, transportation, wholesale trade, and energy. A random effects panel regression is conducted, analyzing the prices and costs of 35 food types over the years 2010-2015. Results illustrate that a 1% (13%) increase in surplus costs correlates to a 0.36% (3.6%) increase in prices. Another interpretation is that a $175 million increase in surplus costs is related to a $0.36 increase in average retail price of the observed food types. There were many limitations with this paper, much of which is related to data availability, but this provides numerous outlets for further research into the topic. This study demonstrates how reducing food waste in America may have economic outcomes that would benefit consumers in the form of decreased food prices.





Food-Fueled is an undergraduate research journal centered around food-related topics as an extension of American University’s RECIPES project. Funded by the National Science Foundation, RECIPES brings together over 40 researchers working at 15 institutions in order to advance the science needed to make our wasteful food system more sustainable, equitable, and resilient. Food-Fueled aims to publish works on food-related issues ranging from policy to food science, to personal narratives about the influence of food, nature, and agriculture. This work was supported by NSF Grant # 2115405 SRS RN: Multiscale RECIPES (Resilient, Equitable, and Circular Innovations with Partnership and Education Synergies) for Sustainable Food Systems. Findings and conclusions reported within Food-Fueled are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. This article can also be found at the following website: All journal content can be found at the following website:





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