Australia’s annual food waste bill hits $10B

Australians spent a total of $10.1 billion on food that went to waste in 2019, up from $8.9 billion in 2018.

The Rabobank Food Waste Report, released 26 November, shows Australian are now wasting an average of 13 per cent of their weekly grocery spend, equating to $1026 each year.

Rabobank Australia Head of Client Experience Glenn Wealands said food waste is one of the most significant challenges facing Australia.

“According to the Food Sustainability Index, developed by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit, Australia is the fourth highest food waster in the world,” Mr Wealands said.

“Given the increasing pressure on the planet to provide for a growing population, there is an urgent need for greater action across governments, industry, retailers, and consumers to drive real change.”

According to the report, consumers are the biggest offenders, with household waste making up 34 per cent of food waste nationally.

Primary production represents 31 per cent, with manufacturing contributing 25 per cent.

Mr Wealands said every individual has a role to play in minimising food waste.

“We know from this research that more than three quarters of us care about reducing food waste and are annoyed by it,” Mr Wealands said.

“However, it is alarming that less than three out of 10 of us recognise the impact our food waste has on the environment.”

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Australians throw away $8.9 billion in food annually

The Rabobank Food Waste Report shows Australians are wasting a collective $8.9 billion on food waste, a seven per cent reduction from $9.6 billion in 2017.

The report shows more than a third of all food produced globally is never consumed as it is either spoiled in transit or thrown out by consumers.

This results in one third of the world’s agricultural land being used to produce food that is subsequently not eaten.

Rabobank Australia Head of Client Experience Glenn Wealands said while the report shows changing attitudes towards food waste, the $890 waste bill per household illustrates more needs to be done.

“While is it pleasing that Australian consumers are wasting less food compared to 12 months ago, there is clearly much to do to raise awareness about food production and waste – while improving the finances of all Australians,” Mr Wealands said.

The report shows food delivery services are having a negative effect on food waste, with those who use food delivery services wasting 6.8 per cent more food than those who don’t.

According to Mr Wealands, the main culprit is food going off before it can be finished at 75 per cent, while 45 per cent of Australian’s are simply buying too much at the grocery store.

Mr Wealands said despite this, many Australians are actively embracing better habits at home including 50 per cent who use a shopping list when buying groceries, 38 per cent who eat leftovers, 36 per cent who plan meals in advance and 30 per cent who freeze food.

“As our population increases we will struggle to feed additional mouths. If we don’t curb our waste, we could run out by 2050,” Mr Wealands said.

While the reduction in food waste is a global responsibility, we all – as individual consumers – can play a significant role in sustaining this planet for generations to come.”

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