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In recent months I have been paying particular attention to food costs. As part of that I have looked at the price of different fruit. It is easy to calculate the price per Kg of unprepared fruit, and I am surprised how cheap for example pineapple is compared to locally produced fruit. However I suspect there could be more wastage in pineapples.

I could work this out for myself, ie. weigh the product before and after preparation. However I thought that this must be a core variable that goes into food production process control calculations, so someone must have worked out wastage rates for all sorts of products under all sorts of conditions. Are these publically available? I think they would be very useful to a lot of people, particularly in the present economic circumstances.

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  • Part of this depends on personal habits, some freeze vegetable scraps for stock, for example. Others don't peel carrots. Still, a table of loss by preparation type would be useful. I know of no such table, if you do find one please do post as an answer.
    – GdD
    Mar 3, 2023 at 13:21
  • 2
    Ingredient selection is also a huge factor. Many of the regular grocery stores near me have bags of skinny little carrots where you easily lose 15-20% of them carrot if you peel them. I shop at the international grocery stores as they sell the big fat carrots where it isn’t so significant. Bagged potatoes might hide lots of bits that need to be cut out while you can look though loose potatoes to reduce it (but might just be pushing the wastage to the grocery store)
    – Joe
    Mar 3, 2023 at 13:45
  • @GdD stock is a good point; you don't get much nutrition out of it though.
    – Chris H
    Mar 3, 2023 at 13:58
  • I suppose you'll get much the same nutrition out of a pound of carrot peels as peeled carrot if it's frozen quickly enough @ChrisH.
    – GdD
    Mar 3, 2023 at 14:03
  • @GdD indeed, but not as much as if you scrubbed the carrots instead of peeling and ate the whole thing
    – Chris H
    Mar 3, 2023 at 14:11

2 Answers 2

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The USDA has a handbook of yield ratios for various raw ingredients. Note that some goods have a high variance in yield, from the foods themselves as well as how you prepare them; your own kitchen scale will be more accurate for the foods you buy and prepare than the measurements given here.

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    This is exactly what I was after, thank you. A pdf with images of typed text? Does that mean that this valuable information exists principally as type written documents? They should invest a few months FTE to digitise this and put it on the web.
    – User65535
    Mar 4, 2023 at 8:29
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    @User65535 The information used to be available with the rest of the nutritional information database at fdc.nal.usda.gov . Not sure why it isn’t now.
    – Sneftel
    Mar 4, 2023 at 9:26
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    @User65535 sadly that's what you get from the 70s. With that sort of content, even with a decent scan, OCR and proofreading wouldn't be much less effort. A decent data entry clerk could do it in a matter of days (as could a copy typist but it wants to be in a database for later formatting)
    – Chris H
    Mar 4, 2023 at 17:41
  • This is awesome. Does the date of 1974 imply that the USDA hasn't updated this since then?
    – quarague
    Mar 4, 2023 at 19:28
  • Mmh, Antelope! I wonder if that was a common food back then...
    – Sursula
    Mar 6, 2023 at 9:18
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Wastage rates for industrially-processed food are unlikely to be the same as for a home cook.

For example different methods of removing stones from stone fruit, cores from apples, etc. will be used depending on whether you've got a pair of eyes, hands, and a knife, or just a machine. This will also be true for pineapple. In many cases the industrial approach will be wasteful at this stage - the goal is to maximise profit, not minimise food waste.

Then industrial processing may have ways of profiting from by-products - juice in the case of many fruits, or pulp. In at least some cases this can be extracted partially from trimmings, such as peel, the core of a pineapple, or quite likely the flesh stuck to a mango stone after the best bits have been sliced off.

Finally their waste often ends up as animal feed, after further processing.

So you'd need tables meant for chefs or home cooks, not for food factories

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