The coronavirus pandemic has derailed Australia’s progress in reducing food waste, leading to a spike in the amount of food Aussie households are throwing out.
The 2020 Food Waste Report, produced annually by Rabobank, found that Australians are now wasting 12.7 per cent of their weekly grocery shop, costing the average Australian household an all-time high of $1043 per year and totalling $10.3 billion nationally.
Australians were surveyed in March and again in September, and food waste increased significantly after the onset of the pandemic as people focused on keeping safe at home.
Of the people who wasted more food during the COVID period, 46 per cent said it was because they were cooking from home more often, 37 per cent said it was because they were experimenting more with recipes and baking, 28 per cent said it was because they were buying more food, 23 per cent said it was because they were ordering takeaway/home delivery more frequently and 21 per cent said it was because they were buying brands and food items with which they were less familiar.
The research found that Australians were making positive inroads to reducing food waste before the pandemic hit, dropping almost two percentage points from an average of 12.9 per cent of food purchased in 2019 to 11.1 per cent in early 2020.
During the pandemic, however, food waste had crept back up to being 12.7 per cent of the food purchased.
Rabobank’s Glenn Wealands says thinking about food waste was the furthest things from many minds during the height of the pandemic in Australia.
“It’s to be expected that food waste has been de-prioritised by Australians during this stressful year when our attention has been focused on other urgent issues,” Mr Wealands said.
“We were making headway in terms of minimising food waste before we faced this pandemic, however, our research shows we’ve headed off track.
“The average household is now wasting nearly 13 per cent of the groceries they buy and also spending more on food delivery and self-prepare food services.
“We’ve also seen almost 10 per cent of households increasing their spend on food to stockpile items in case supply ran out during lockdown.”
How to cut down on food waste
Mr Wealands said that now Australia was emerging from the pandemic it was time to get back to good food usage habits.
“Think about how and when you can use the excess food in your pantry and freezer, check your cupboards and the use by dates on packages to ensure you’re using what you have, make a weekly meal plan before you shop online and factor in a night off when you order your favourite local takeaway,” Mr Wealands said.
The research shows that the majority (77 per cent) of Australians care about reducing waste, with 78 per cent annoyed when they see food wasted and 64 per cent wanting people to think about the impact on the environment.
Did you waste more food during the height of the pandemic? Did you order more home-delivered meals? How much money do you think you waste on unused food in your house?
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