Cherry Digital recently released a report detailing just how wasteful households can be in different states across America.

Gage Edwards, Content Producer

November 1, 2023

3 Min Read
food waste 6 feat.jpg
Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg 5+ / Alamy Stock Photo

As 2023 comes to a close, we’re approaching several food-heavy holidays. Of these, Thanksgiving and Christmas are the biggest to watch out for and usually account for the biggest family gatherings and events. Those get-togethers are nice but lead to a lot of wasted food.

With proper preparation and planning, families can cut down on how much food they purchase for holiday events—hopefully, saving them hundreds of dollars and keeping excess food waste from taking up valuable space in our landfills. Simple saving tips and tricks should be implemented sooner than later, as some states are seeing households wasting nearly $1,000 worth of food each year.

Cherry Digital, a communications agency, recently released a report detailing just how wasteful households can be in different states across America. Cherry Digital surveyed 3,200 people to find out how much money we’re throwing away annually.

The study found that on average, American households are throwing away around $907 a year just in food waste*. Sitting at the top of this study is South Carolina, which was found to be the most wasteful state. South Carolina households are wasting about $1,305 worth of food each year. 

In comparison, the least wasteful state, according to the survey, is West Virginia, as its households only throw away roughly $405 worth of food annually.

The issue seems to stem from households misunderstanding their food’s labeling. The report found that 48.9% of respondents say they won’t eat food that has passed its sell-by date. Of course, food isn’t automatically spoiled once that sell-by date comes and goes, it just means that is the last day it must be sold in a store but is likely still good to eat. 

Another divisive label among respondents in the report was the “use-by date” label, which split the survey results into thirds. Roughly 30 percent of those in the survey believed that the use-by date meant it was the last date a product was edible. About 22 percent thought that it meant it was the last date food could be displayed in store, and 21 percent thought that it meant the latest date that a product would be at its best flavor (which, of course, is the best-by date).

Other results showed that more than half the respondents in the survey, 51.1 percent, favor ditching the best before dates on fruits and vegetables as they claim it’s easy to tell when something has gone by just by touching it. The study also found that the food products most likely to be tossed by Americans are dairy products, followed by meat, fish, bread, and vegetables in that order.

Other states weighing in on their household food waste average include Florida, Michigan, and Arizona. Florida and Michigan come in below the national average, tossing out $835 and $855, respectively, worth of food waste annually. Those numbers make up over one-fifth of a household’s food in those states each month. Arizona was found to be above the average in food waste with households in the state tossing out $945 worth of food waste. This amount makes up a quarter of Arizona household’s food each month.

Ending the report, Cherry Digital offered advice on how to decrease food waste and be more resourceful. For starters, Cherry Digital recommends freezing your food, which can be done right up until a product’s use-by date and will still be good to eat months later. Yogurt reaching its use-by date can be mixed with over-ripe fruit for smoothies. Also, food that households know they may not use by the use-by dates can be donated to food kitchens.

Cherry Digital notes that the data has been calculated by using the amount spent annually by each American household (figure taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) and asking households how much food they throw away at the end of every month (%)

About the Author(s)

Gage Edwards

Content Producer, Waste360

Gage Edwards is a Content Producer at Waste360 and seasoned video editor.

Gage has spent the better part of 10 years creating content in various industries but mostly revolving around video games.

Gage loves video games, theme parks, and loathes littering.

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