Research & Reports

Australian households throw away 3.1 million tonnes of edible food each year

An alarming three quarters of Australian adults (75 per cent) surveyed by FoodSaver are self-confessed food-wasters, with more than half (56 per cent) of those surveyed who throw out food are doing so on at least a weekly basis.

The research has exposed the high volume of food wasted in Australian homes – as two thirds of Australians who participated in the study admit they threw unused food out in 2018, while 36 per cent of those surveyed confess to having let food to spoil. Bread and leafy vegetables were the top foods being thrown out or left to spoil in 2018.

“It’s forgotten leftovers and spoiled fresh produce contributing the most to Australia’s food waste problem,” said Nicole Norton, FoodSaver Australia and New Zealand brand manager and food preservation advocate.

“Aussies have good intentions when it comes to consuming their food, but modern life gets in the way. They simply don’t manage to consume it in time or are unaware of savvy ways to preserve food for longer.”

Australians have owned up to their reasons for throwing out food, with the research finding food spoiling (69 per cent), food past the use-by date (48 per cent) and cooking too much food (25 per cent) as the top excuses among respondents. Yet, Australians surveyed by FoodSAver admit their three leading reasons for food going to waste include not using by expiry date (56 per cent), buying too much food (43 per cent) and a change of plans (43 per cent).

Interestingly, based on the 2018 research, while half of Australians are concerned about food waste in general, and around three quarters of us (72 per cent) feel guilty and frustrated about waste, only one third of Australians surveyed are concerned about their own personal food waste.

Families with children surveyed are more likely to have experienced food wastage, with 73 per cent of those polled having thrown out unused food versus 61 per cent of single and couple households polled. More than a third (36 per cent) of 35-54-year-old surveyed admit to throwing away food on a weekly basis, followed equally by 18-34 and 55-69 years old at 30 per cent from the survey.

More than half of Australians (54 per cent) polled in the study indicate that they are extremely concerned about the food waste problem in Australia, with feelings of guilt and frustration.

In 2019, it’s expected that we’ll start to see a change in Australians’ attitude and behaviour when it comes to unnecessary wastage with 51 per cent of survey participants indicating they are motivated to reduce their food waste.

The research discovered saving money was the main motivator and people’s moral conscience another incentive for reducing food waste. It also found that respondents with no food wastage were driven by environmental factors, self-improvement and the desire to set a good example for their kids.

In the new year, Australians surveyed say they will start planning meals better (49 per cent), use current produce before buying new (38 per cent) and find better storage solutions (36 per cent) in order to prevent food wastage.

Currently, almost half (48 per cent) of Australians surveyed store their produce loose in the crisper drawer, followed by plastic containers and bags in the fridge. Just nine per cent of the respondents surveyed store fresh products in the fridge with vacuum sealed solutions, however, more than half (52 per cent) of Australians surveyed are considering vacuum sealers in the future.

“While vacuum sealing foods at home is not widespread as other forms of food storage, there is increased interest from consumers as they are now commonly seeing vacuum sealed foods at their local supermarket, and so understanding that removing air does make their food remain fresh for longer,” Norton said.

“Vacuum sealing preserves food and doesn’t just store it. We know that Australians are keen to consider food vacuum sealers in the future, particularly females, younger people and families with kids, who are always looking for savvy food and money-saving solutions.”