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Food waste survey shows we're taking steps in the right direction

Category better-together sustainability

Kiwis are wasting less of their food spend than they were in 2019 but the estimated cost of that food waste has risen, stinging households an estimated $1,259 per year.

That’s the finding from the new Rabobank-KiwiHarvest Food Waste Survey, which was released on Friday 19 June, 2021.

The survey, which had more than 1,500 participants across New Zealand, shows people estimate they are binning around 8.6 per cent of their weekly food spend, down from 10.2 per cent in 2019.

While that is positive news and shows the country is taking steps in the right direction in the fight against food waste, the estimated cost of that food has actually risen from $2 billion per year in 2019 to an estimated $2.4 billion per year.

With the value of wasted food continuing to grow, Rabobank New Zealand CEO Todd Charteris said it was encouraging to see Kiwis making positive behavioural shifts to address the issue.

“In comparison to 2019, Kiwis are now more likely to be eating leftovers, considering portion size, freezing uneaten food and eating food past the ‘best before’ date,” he said.

“We’re also seeing more Kiwis using worm farms or composting, and all these changes have helped to reduce the portion of household food spend that goes to waste.”

While these changes are a step in the right direction, Mr Charteris said the research identified opportunities to turn New Zealanders’ concerns about food waste into meaningful action.

“Seventy-nine per cent of Kiwis say they care about reducing food waste, however there remains a significant disconnect between New Zealanders’ attitudes towards food waste and the actions they’re taking,” he said.

“The survey found nearly half of New Zealanders have thrown away unopened or untried food in the last 12 months, while only a third of New Zealanders consistently plan their meals in advance. And it’s clear that if we want to make further progress on this issue, Kiwis need to look more closely at what they’re buying, how much food they’re preparing, and what they actually eat.”

Food Waste Infographic

Rabobank and KiwiHarvest

Mr Charteris said as New Zealand’s only specialist food and agribusiness bank, Rabobank had identified food waste as a key challenge in achieving the bank’s vision towards global food security.

“Here in New Zealand, we’re contributing to this goal by raising awareness of food waste and helping to minimise its negative financial and environmental impacts,” he said.

Mr Charteris said the bank’s partnership with KiwiHarvest had enabled them to invest in much needed resources to expand the capacity of their operations.

“It’s also provided our employees with valuable opportunities to contribute to food waste reduction through community volunteering and team building with KiwiHarvest and their partners,” he said.

KiwiHarvest CEO Gavin Findlay said demand for KiwiHarvest’s services had grown strongly over the past year.

“The lingering impacts of Covid-19 have resulted in more and more Kiwi families facing financial hardship and the need for our services has never been greater. With the support of Rabobank and our other partners, we’ve

recently been able to ramp up our capacity and we are now redistributing approximately 200,000 kilograms of food per month,” he said.

“In addition to this, we’ve continued our work to improve New Zealanders awareness of food waste and to provide them with information to help tackle the issue.”

Find out more about the food waste report here.

Click here to learn more about our partnership with KiwiHarvest.