Globally, one-third of all food produced –1.3 billion tonnes of food worth $1 trillion– is wasted. According to a new report released by Rabobank Australia is the fourth largest food-wasting nation per capita, throwing 298kg of food away per person.
The report, part of Rabobank’s annual Financial Health Barometer (FHB) surveys over 2,300 financial decision makers aged between 18 and 65, polling consumer attitudes and habits around shopping, saving, debt and food waste.
The Rabobank 2019 Food Waste Report found that Australians spent a total of $10.1 billion dollars in 2019 on food that wasn’t even consumed; roughly 13% of their weekly grocery spend or $1,026 each year. This is an increase from $8.9 billion dollars in 2018.
“Food waste is one of the most significant challenges facing our nation and planet today,” said Glenn Wealands, Head of Client Experience, Rabobank Australia.
“Given the increasing pressure on the planet to provide for a growing population there is an urgent need for greater action across governments, industry, retailers, and consumers to drive real change.”
More than three quarters of those surveyed said they cared about reducing food waste, however food waste is on the rise across all states and all generations. The report found that households and consumers are wasting the most, responsible for 34% of food waste nationally, with primary production and manufacturing following closely at 31% and 25% respectively.
The main reasons for household food waste include buying too much, not knowing what to do with leftovers, and changing schedules. The most socially conscious generation, Generation Z, who make up a quarter of the Australian population are also the biggest food wasters, throwing $1,446 worth of food purchased each year compared with just $498 for Baby Boomers.
The food waste report also found that less than a third of Australians connect the impact of their food waste with climate change and environmental issues such as water shortages and animals becoming extinct.
“As individuals, each and every one of us can and must make a difference. When we waste food, the ramifications go far beyond just dollars, impacting our planet and precious resources,” Wealands said.
“But there is hope! We have some fantastic organisations in Australia that are committed to fighting food waste, such as OzHarvest, Foodbank and Yume.”
Wealands also points to the power of government to help curb food waste. “We can definitely learn from best practice in other countries, for example, governments in Italy and France banned supermarket food waste in 2016, legislating that unsold goods must be given to food banks or charities. Ultimately, there must be a highlighted sense of urgency now, given we’re wasting more than ever before.”
Other key findings:
- Australians waste 13% of their weekly grocery spend
- Less than 3 out of 10 recognise the impact food waste has on the environment
- 9 out of 10 Aussies admitted to wasting food this year
- People living in capital cities waste 14% of their weekly shop
- People in rural areas waste just 11%
- Victorians are the most wasteful binning 13.9% of food annually
- The least wasteful state is NT throwing out just 10.4%
- Australians who use online grocery shopping and food delivery services are wasting more food
How to reduce food waste
Want to reduce food waste, save money and help fight climate change? Here’s how you can curb your food waste:
- Check the fridge and use up what’s already in there before going shopping for more. There are also gadgets now available to help you keep track of what’s in your fridge such as Smarter’s FridgeCam.
- Plan your grocery trips and always use a shopping list so you only buy what you need.
- Preplan meals in advance. For example, take time on Sunday to plan and prepare meals and store in the freezer to make life easier.
- Keep your hunger in check when dining out or ordering in as you’ll end up ordering more than you can eat.
- When preparing food, consider portion sizes.
- If there are leftovers, freeze them or take to work and eat for lunch the next day.
- Try to be creative with leftovers. A quick online search will offer many recipes to help you create new meals from leftovers.
- Forget cosmetic looks and buy the fugly fruit.
- Compost food scraps and any waste.
- Grow your own herbs, fruit and vegetables as you are less likely to waste food you’ve grown yourself
To access the annual Rabobank Food Waste Report, click here.
Disclosure: Eco Warrior Princess attended the report launch event in partnership with Rabobank. For further information about our policies, click here.
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All images via Rabobank.