Food waste costing Australians an average of $1043 per year

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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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The coronavirus pandemic has derailed Australia's progress in reducing food waste, lead

Written by Ben


Total Comments: 9
  1. 1

    No I don’t think I wasted much food generally eat the lot, don’t worry about home delivery
    like going to the supermarket and make own selection and don’t do uber eats or such other services

  2. 0

    The only wastage I recently found was that some food past its “Use By date” went stale after 1 day past the date, for example ,bread.

    • 0

      I love stale bread. It’s great for making really crispy toast as a tasty replacement for crackers. Multigrain bread of course, nt the white stuff.

    • 0

      You can use stale bread to make bread and butter pudding, toast, breadcrumbs for your next snitty, line muffin tins and make mini egg tarts…… The point is you don’t have to throw away stale bread!

  3. 1

    No wonder there’s food waste .. look at the way supermarkets package up all the veges etc where you can no longer buy just what you need – you have to buy a pack of 4 or 6 or 8!!!! and small cans of foods for 1 or 2 are so much more expensive than bigger ones. I’d like to see a shop called “Bites” where you can buy for singles or 2 at most.

    • 0

      This is a particular pet whinge of mine Kiwozok about the relentless packaging of product into amounts designed to feed a small army not just one or two people. I am so fed up of being invisible to supermarkets simply because a) I am not feeding a family and b) I am not prepared to eat the same thing for days on end just so they can sell more goods. – Don’t bother telling me to cook it and freeze it that is beside the point I shouldn’t have to!

    • 0

      I am finding less and less loose fruit and veg these days. The hypocrites banned plastic bags and are now producing more and more plastic and polystyrene packaging for us to dispose of.

  4. 1

    We oldies who lived through the restrictions of the war do not waste very much at all, but have young relatives who never eat leftovers. Their bin is often full.



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