Australians are throwing out $9.6 billion worth of food each year, with our wastage costing households about $1050 each.
A survey of 2300 people by Rabobank, which specialises in food and agribusiness banking, for its annual Food and Farming Report, found households were discarding 14 per cent of their food.
Most often, food went off before it could be used (82 per cent), while 43 per cent of respondents said they bought too much food or it was not as good as expected. One in 10 did not want to use leftovers.
City residents tossed more food than rural households, at 16 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively. Rabobank said this suggested “Aussies with a greater knowledge of farming and food production are more likely to be careful with their food”.
Victorians were the worst, throwing out 19 per cent of food compared to thrifty Tasmanians – who wasted only 4 per cent.
The report found Australians wanted to do better, with 76 per cent of respondents caring about food waste reduction. Consumers were also concerned with wastage within supermarkets, buying local, and protecting farmers.
OzHarvest, a charity which rescues food and gives it to those in need, told The New Daily that the total figure nationwide, including institutions, was about $20 billion.
Spokesperson Fiona Nearn said that figure came from the Australian government, but OzHarvest believed it to be even higher.
OzHarvest, with eight offices nationwide, delivered more than 13 million meals last year, recycling food that would otherwise have been thrown out.
Ms Nearn said more than one-third of household bins in Australia were made up of food waste, but noted that up to 60 per cent of food waste in the home was avoidable.
Buy what you eat, eat what you buy
Rabobank said the best way to knuckle down on waste was to serve smaller portions and using a shopping list at the supermarket.
Finishing off leftovers instead of taking the family out to dinner just once a week could save an average of $150 a week, or up to $7872 each year, the bank’s report said.
The New Daily’s food writer Flip Shelton also offered her tips on how to reduce waste.
- Don’t buy food or fruit and veg in pre-packaged volumes at supermarkets because you inevitably have leftovers. Visit instead wholesale outlets (taking your own containers or using their paper bags) and go to a fresh food market and buy exactly what you want
- Use the green carrot tops (washed well) as part of your garnish on the steamed or roasted veg, in soup or make a dip. Use the outer leaves of the cauliflower – they are actually very tender and nice. Steam whole and add to your veggie platter or chop and add to a curry or salad
- Use the asparagus stalks (the woody end) by peeling them and adding them to the asparagus dish, or keep the woody ends and add to a veggie stock
- Roast any softening veg at the bottom of the crisper. Or use for a soup
- Store nuts and flours in the fridge or freezer. It keeps them for longer as pantry moths can’t open the fridge
- Have a bake day where you cook your meals for the week ahead and pop them into freezer, saving not only time during the week but it’s perfect when you get home from work tired and uninspired to cook
- If you have a fridge full of food but suddenly receive some tempting dinner invitations and nights out, par boil the vegetables and pop them into the freezer to use later and not waste now
- Bread can easily be frozen, or cube it and make croutons for salad, or pulse into crumbs and save for a schnitzel
- Give any leftover meals to a friend in need – whether it’s an elderly neighbour, single dad, working mum, or student short of cash