40+ Interesting Food Supply Chain Stats (Incl. Blockchain)

16 May 2019   |   Readtime: 8 Min.

The global food supply chain has connected disparate and faraway cultures, shaped how countries have evolved, and with faster modes of transportation, has made the world seem smaller than it is.

However, with how far the food chain has come, the complexity and amount of players involved has also increased dramatically. Recalls, food fraud, waste, and a change in consumer demand are at the forefront.

Below are some eye-opening stats on different aspects of the food supply chain.

Food Safety Incidents & Recalls Are At An All Time High

  • Every year, more than 400,000 people die due to food borne illnesses worldwide. (Forbes Magazine)

  • One in six Americans will contract a food borne illness every year. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

  • Children are the most at-risk group for food borne illness, particularly children under 5, making up 40% of the cases and 125,000 deaths every year. (World Health Organization)

  • Between 2013 and 2017, the volume of food recalls increased dramatically, and Class I recalls of meat and poultry increased by 83 percent.

  • Last year alone, food recalls affected over 20 million pounds of food. (FSIS)

  • In 2018, the USDA recorded 125 recalls. (FSIS)

  • Of the 125 recalls in 2018, 97 of them, or 78%, were categorized as Class I, which is a recall that involves a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that eating the food will cause health problems or death. (FSIS)

  • 21.6% of recalls in 2018 fell under the "Other" category, which includes producing without inspection, failure to present for import inspection, and labeling issues (e.g., food fraud).

  • 20.8% of recalls were made due to an undeclared allergen. (FSIS)

  • 18.4% of 2018's recalls were necessary as the products contained extraneous material. (FSIS)

  • 16.6% of recalls were due to Listeria monocytogenes concerns. (FSIS)

  • Only 63% of food safety specialists were aware that mandatory recalls are provided under FSMA as a new requirement. (Food Safety Tech Magazine)

  • Of those same food safety specialists, only 69% knew that the FSMA preventive controls require that hazards be addressed under the HACCP plan. (Food Safety Tech Magazine)

Cost Stats

  • The average food recall cost in the United States is estimated between $30 million and $99 million — and this includes only the direct costs companies incur from retrieval and disposal of recalled items. There are also the indirect costs resulting from lawsuits, reputational damages, and sales losses. (Grocery Manufacturers Association)*

  • Insurance claims for a product recall reach an average of $9.5 million, with the food and beverage industry being the second most impacted, just after the car industry. (2017 Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty Report)

  • Processing and administering the required trade documentation for all the goods transported via ocean shipping costs about 20% of the actual physical transportation costs. (Gartner)

Food Fraud And Theft Are The Norm

Blockchain Adoption & Growth In The Food Supply Chain

  • The Global Blockchain in Agriculture Market and Food Supply Chain Market is expected to grow CAGR of +47% during the forecast period by 2026. (The Research Insights Report 2019)

  • Gartner predicts that blockchain’s business value-add will grow to slightly over $360 billion by 2026, then surge to more than $3.1 trillion by 2030. (Gartner)

  • 77% of responding CIOs say their enterprise has no interest in the technology and/or no action planned to investigate or develop it. Gartner believes this is a more dangerous attitude. (Gartner)

  • According to Gartner, by 2023, 90% of blockchain-based supply chain initiatives will suffer blockchain fatigue due to a lack of strong use cases. (Gartner)

  • Walmart has filed 50 blockchain-related patents. (Forbes)

  • Walmart drastically reduced the time spent tracing a package of mangoes back to their source farm to 2.2 seconds using blockchain. Without the technology, it would have taken six days, 18 hours, and 26 minutes. (Food Navigator)

  • By 2025, 20% of the top 10 global grocers by revenue will be using blockchain for food safety and traceability to create visibility to production, quality and freshness. (Gartner)

Waste & Sustainability Stats

  • The average shopper looks for six different claims on the front of the product package (FMI’s 2019 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends)

  • 70% of shoppers feel that “accurate information displayed at the shelf or with the product” is very important to them (FMI’s 2019 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends)

  • More than 30% of the food produced in the world is lost or wasted. (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

  • 1.6 billion tons of food, worth $1.2 trillion and equal to one-third (1/3) of the total global food supply, go to waste. $700 billion worth of that waste can be eliminated if five key drivers of the problem are addressed. (Boston Consulting Group)

  • Farms, manufacturers, and consumer-facing businesses contribute 58% of all food waste, which represents 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to global undernourishment (UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Resources Institute)

  • In developing countries, 40% of losses occur at post-harvest and processing levels, while in industrialized countries more than 40% of losses happen at retail and consumer levels. (UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Resources Institute)

From farm to table, the average distance food travels in the U.S. is between 1,500-2,500 miles

Sustainability In The Food Supply Chain Matters Greatly

  • From farm to table, the average distance food travels in the U.S. is between 1,500-2,500 miles. (Worldwatch Institute)

  • The average travel distance per meal increased by 25% over the last two decades. (Worldwatch Institute)

  • Some foods, like sugar in packets, grown, processed, and packaged in the U.S., can travel upwards of 10,000 miles in the U.S. alone. (CUESA)

  • According to a Nielsen study, 48% of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment. (Nielsen)

  • U.S. consumers spent $128.5 billion on sustainable fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) products in 2018, and that number is projected to be $150 billion in 2021. (Nielsen)

  • 43% of consumers are more likely to purchase and are willing to pay more for natural food. (Technomic’s Healthy Eating Report)

  • In 2018, 75% of consumers (up from 39% in 2016) said they would be willing to switch brands if another offered them more in-depth product information beyond the label. (Sources: Label Insight/Food Marketing Institute/Hartman Group).

  • 94% of consumers say it is important for them to buy from manufacturers who are transparent with them (2016 Label Insight Food Revolution Study)

  • 69% of consumers want retailers to be more transparent about their sustainability efforts (Sources: Label Insight/Food Marketing Institute/Hartman Group).

  • Walmart is aiming to have zero waste in not only the U.S. but also the United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan. (Walmart)


The above statistics show that recalls, waste, and transportation are costly factors in the global food supply chain, but blockchain use is becoming a prominent and beneficial factor in that chain as well. With Walmart investing heavily in blockchain, and other companies following suit, early adopters can reap significant benefits.

From being able to complete a recall faster, or even avoid one before it starts, to being able to trace produce back to the individual farm, to reducing food waste by detecting/preventing spoilage events, blockchain technology can increase the bottom line of your organization.

*This statistic is from 2011, however it is the most recent of its kind available.

Download the Ultimate Guide to Blockchain in the Food Supply Chain


Bob Burrows

CEO & Founder of Chainvu

As the CEO and founder of Chainvu, Bob is passionate about the safety and sustainability impact in the food and pharmaceutical supply chains. Did you know that 35% of food in North America doesn’t make it to the table? Chainvu gives the entire supply chain actionable product visibility and 100% traceability of products live at every step. Our solution is embedded and proactive, providing immediate notifications to prevent damage, reduce labour & waste, and improve product quality. Prior to Chainvu, Bob has over two decades of experience as a serial intrapreneur and entrepreneur achieving global leadership in digital networking products, and large-scale communications services. Bob holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Waterloo and an M. Sc. in Business from the Sloan School at MIT.


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