Supermarkets should be required to measure the amount (weight) of food they “discard” per day or week. “Discard” would be defined as food that has been required by management to be removed from the shelves because of its age and which is no longer intended by that store to be sold for consumption. Perhaps these ‘discards’ could be divided into at least two categories: natural foods (fruits, vegetables, etc.) and packaged/processed foods (cheese, meats, TV dinners, canned goods, etc.). This would enable the uniform, comprehensive gathering of statistics on this problem and can be used to provide a way to measure the effectiveness of any efforts aimed at reducing this problem of waste. All this quantitative ‘discards’ information from each significant food vendor in the state (or country) should be uploaded onto one industry-wide and operated website so that there is only one clearinghouse for information of this sort for people in the secondary market to accurately and efficiently search through to find and perhaps even purchase this excess food before it is ultimately thrown away. The goal of this program is to list such products so that they could be more efficiently located and sold (or given away) before they are ultimately thrown away, composted or otherwise used for non-consumptive food purposes.
For whatever weight of products that remain unsold or not given away (for example, to food banks), these stores would then be charged a fee for every pound of product that is thrown away. This fee would naturally incentivize stores to increase their utilization efficiency by optimizing their own practices to reduce waste by either advertising their products to satisfy smaller niche markets (i.e., selling ripe or overripe products for a lower price) or by naturally helping to create financially viable secondary markets for these imperfect, near expired, or otherwise sub-optimal fruits and vegetables and other foods.