Kiwis trash $3.1 billion of food

$3.1 billion of food

The truth’s out – New Zealanders are throwing away an estimated $3.1 billion of food each year.

Another fact emerging from the 2022 Rabobank-KiwiHarvest Food Waste Research survey is that household food waste is increasing. Markedly.

The survey questioned 1509 people about their food habits. Fifty-three percent said they had thrown away unopened food in the last year. The previous year 42 percent admitted this.

Overall, the average New Zealand household wastes 13.4 per cent of the food bought each week – well up from the 8.6 per cent recorded in the 2021 survey.

The estimated value of food waste per Kiwi household is now $1520 per year.

Top tip items are vegetables, bread and fruit.

It is estimated the $3.1 billion of food that goes straight to the landfill is enough to feed the entire population of Hamilton for a year.

The facts are “staggering”, Rabobank chief executive Todd Charteris says. Over the past five years the surveys have shown a downward trend in the proportion of food being wasted.

“We were genuinely surprised to see food waste jump so significantly in the latest survey.

“As with last year, the survey found ‘wasted money’ was Kiwis’ biggest deterrent to wasting food.”

Rabobank had assumed the rising cost of living might make people even more careful. It found the opposite.

Raising awareness and education for households would help, says Charteris.

Besides wasting money, food waste has a negative impact on the environment.

Just why binned food is on the increase is a puzzle. Kiwis’ attitude to food waste hasn’t changed in 12 months.

It could be generational: the survey found younger New Zealanders waste significantly higher proportion of their household food spend than older generations.

Despite the negative effect binning food has on the environment, Gen Z and Gen Y were the most wasteful.

They wasted 28.2 percent of their weekly food spend. Last year they wasted 16 percent.

The survey found males were significantly more wasteful than females (16.5 percent versus 10.4 percent).

People in towns waste more than those in the country (14.7 percent versus 10.7 percent).

If we understand why we’re throwing away food – not just in homes, but all through the supply chain … and what we can do about it, then we can rise to that challenge as Kiwis.”

Planning was imperative when it came to reducing food waste in the home, Deborah Manning says.

She should know. She founded food rescue service KiwiHarvest.

“The survey identified that those people who shop with a shopping list, those people who understand portion control – they actually waste less food and therefore save more money on their weekly budget.”

Using leftovers, freezing food and knowing how to store it, were effective ways to reduce waste, she says.

Understanding how to read best-before dates was also important.

“[They] indicate that you can still eat the food after the best-before date – just use your common sense as to whether you think it is safe and suitable to eat.”


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News category: New Zealand.

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