Action needed to reduce food wastage

File photo.

New research has found that while New Zealanders have a positive attitude towards reducing food wastage, an eighth of the food we buy each week is wasted.

The research, commissioned by RaboDirect New Zealand, found that despite 79 per cent of New Zealanders admitting they don't like to waste food, 94 per cent of us do.

It is estimated that we waste an average of 12 per cent of the food we buy each week, or $1071 worth of food per household, every year. Over the whole New Zealand population, this adds up to $1.8 billion.

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Daryl Johnson says while New Zealanders are increasingly aware of the food wastage problem, they largely underestimate the scale at which it occurs and are likely unaware of the large associated financial cost.

"New Zealanders are very aware of food waste on an individual level, but are less aware of the bigger impact,” says Daryl. “Currently, 70 per cent of Kiwis underestimate how much we waste as a nation, which equates to 122,547 tonnes.

"It's hard to visualise that amount of food, but it's equivalent to the weight of around 350 Boeing 747 jets or around 29 kilogrammes per person per year.

"We've got the right attitude in that Kiwis want to reduce food wastage, but it's a matter of putting that mindset into action."

Daryl says the research shows New Zealanders need to look more closely at what food they buy each week, what they actually eat and what's left over at the end.

"New Zealand farmers and agribusinesses work hard to produce what is among the best food in the world, and we need to do more to ensure it is not thrown away."

The research showed the leading contributor to wasted food was food going off before it could be eaten. This accounted for 55 per cent of food wastage. A further 15 per cent was from unfinished food on our plates, while insufficient planning and food not tasting as good as expected each accounted for seven per cent.

As far as behaviours that could reduce waste, the survey found that just 33 per cent of New Zealanders always plan meals in advance and only 22 per cent freeze leftovers. And while 63 per cent say they are likely to buy imperfect fruit and vegetables, only 26 per cent ever have.

Younger generations were found to be more likely to waste food than older generations.



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