Saturday, April 13, 2024

Kiwis waste $2.4b of food every year

Avatar photo
New research has found New Zealand households are throwing away an average of $1229 of food per year, totalling $2.4 billion across the entire population. The research by Rabobank and KiwiHarvest found that while New Zealanders were taking positive steps to reduce food waste, the estimated value of food being thrown away was continuing to increase.
Primary Industry leaders are hoping the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern can get a meaningful trade deal with the European Union over the line.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Released at Fieldays, it found that 8.6% of New Zealanders’ weekly food spend has been wasted, a slight fall from 10.2% found in a previous survey in 2019.

The research by independent research agency KANTAR involved interviews with 1509 New Zealanders in April this year.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was at the release of the report, says it showed New Zealanders had a long way to go to reducing food wastage and it was having big socioeconomic effects.

“At the same time that we’re throwing away nearly 3000 tonnes of food waste a year, New Zealanders are facing financial pressures and struggling to put food on the table. We all know we need to turn this around,” Ardern said.

She says reducing food waste was important from both a community wellbeing and environmental perspective.

Ardern also confirmed an extra $153,000 funding from the Waste Minimisation Fund for KiwiHarvest to expand its services in rescuing food along the value chain and distributing it to those in need.

Rabobank chief executive Todd Charteris says it was staggering that New Zealanders wasted around 330,000t of food across households, retailers and commercial operations every year.

He says there had been positive behavioural changes. In comparison to 2019 research, New Zealanders are more likely to be eating leftovers, considering portion sizes and eating food past its use-by date.

While those changes are a step in the right direction, he says the research identified opportunities to turn New Zealanders’ concerns about food waste into action.

“Seventy-nine percent of New Zealanders say they care about reducing food waste, however, there remains a significant disconnect between New Zealanders’ attitudes towards food waste and the action they are taking,” Charteris said.

Rabobank head of sustainable development Blake Holgate says fruit and vegetables accounted for two-thirds of all food waste, followed by bread, which made up a little over one-quarter of all wasted food, and meat, which contributed 6%.

The survey found ‘food going off before you can finish it’ continued to be the major contributor. Food going off before the use-by or best before date and food not tasting as good as expected were the next most significant reasons for throwing away food.

It also found differences in behaviour among younger and older generations of those surveyed.

“Older Kiwis were found to be much more likely than younger generations to be practising household food behaviours that reduce food waste. And, as you’d expect, this translates through to older generations having a lower percentage of their household food spend wasted,” Holgate said.

“The research found Baby Boomers estimate they throw away just 5% of their household food spend with Gen X not far behind at 6%. Then comes a sizable jump to Gen Y at 12%, with Gen Z estimating they waste the largest proportion of food spend at 16%.

“What I find interesting is that if you look at their key concerns over the next 10 years, climate change and the impact on natural environments were number two and three.”

He says if they can make these consumers aware of the connection they have to the supply chain, it would help better drive positive change.

KiwiHarvest founder Deborah Manning says one in five children lived in households where food often ran out. That ratio was one in three for Māori children and one in two for Pasifika children.

“Clearly we have a problem with the adequacy of food supply to our households,” Manning said.

There were also hundreds and thousands of tonnes of food being produced in NZ and ending up as waste. This was a lost opportunity to feed these people and it was also an environmental issue because of the methane the dumped food emitted.

Manning says food waste occurred throughout the food chain and there was little data to quantify the extent of that part of the problem.

An example of this has been the issues facing the horticulture industry around labour shortages and weather events, which left produce still on the tree.

People are also reading