Visual quality and waste of leafy vegetables in the retail market

Milza Moreira Lana, Eduardo M C Gomes


Food waste at retail and consumer level is estimated by the United Nations to be around 17 per cent of total global food production. From that, 2 percent is believed to happen in retail. However, this estimate has a great degree of uncertainty, due to the very small data set on which it was built, coming almost exclusively from high income countries. The present research contributes to fill this gap, presenting primary data on waste of leafy vegetables at two supermarket chains in Federal District -Brazil. Both studies evaluated: 1) number of produce items delivered and discarded; 2) visual quality of produce at reception and 3) cause of discard. The majority of the produce, 37 out of 47, had more than 80% of the units with good visual quality, but this frequency varied from 62.0 % to 88.4 % among stores and from 56.0 % to 97.1 % among suppliers. Within a global waste equal to 20.0 %, the amount observed for individual produce ranged from 1.0 % to 83.0 % and varied considerably across stores and suppliers. The presence of wilt- rotten and yellow- wilt- rotten leaves were the first and second main causes of discard. Vegetable waste at retail level in an upper middle-income country such as Brazil can be substantial, supporting the recent change in narrative that now considers food waste to be relevant in all countries, regardless of its income.



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