Why is Milk and Fresh Produce being Wasted?



Farmer dumping extra supply of milk that is getting wasted.

Antonio Garcia 

In short, a response to the question of what is the cause of the limit on the availability of milk and fresh produce could be explained through supply and demand. However, the answer also is the source of the problem. There is a great demand for milk currently, and the supply is plentiful, so why are farmers having to dump loads of unused milk into the fields? This waste is due to the growing difficulty of getting supplies of milk to stores because of the recent events with COVID-19. 


The overall change in the “style” of how people are buying food affects the way stores operate. Before the virus, people would typically go to the store to buy fresh produce and other foods that last for smaller amounts of time on a day to day basis; however, because people are supposed to stay home for longer periods, they begin to buy food in bulk so that they last longer. The problem is that fresh produce can’t last for long quantities of time and is becoming less of a consumer staple. 


 As stated by local consumer Juan Garcia: “I go to the store every two or three days, and I shop for just a couple days… I don’t buy produce for a month at a time because it doesn’t last that long.”


Current events such as lockdowns, businesses closing, and “stay at home” orders have closed the farmers’ institutional uses of milk. Normally, farmers are able to sell their milk to many different locations and businesses such as schools, restaurants, theme parks, and hotels, but cannot due to everything other than essential businesses are shut down. Now, the dairy farmers have an immense amount of supply that needs to be sold, and only has one major route: grocery stores. 


The big question still is: with a large supply of milk and an obvious demand, why is so much being wasted? The answer to this, according to Garcia, resides in how grocery stores operate: “They might not have the capital to purchase mass quantities upfront. In addition, they would need to provide labor to stock the mass quantities.” 


Without stores being able to purchase mass quantities upfront, all the milk not being bought is going to waste.


Unfortunately, even though so much milk is being wasted and fresh produce is rotting in piles, the production can’t stop. It takes time to grow the food and if the growing of food were to be put on halt, it would only create more of a problem in the future. 


Similarly, production of milk cannot stop; Garcia explains why: “You have to continuously milk the cows in order for them to continue producing milk.” Therefore, even though most of the milk, unfortunate as it is, will go to waste, production must go on, or later down the line we won’t have the same supply and will not be able to produce nearly as much. The COVID-19 virus is very serious and has effects on both health conditions for people and impacts on the economy.