Research & Reports

Despite reduction in wastage, Australians still threw away $8.9bn worth of food in 2018

The Rabobank Food Waste Report has found that Australians have significantly reduced the food they waste year-on-year by $700 million, with the research revealing a seven per cent reduction from $9.6 billion in 2017 to $8.9 billion in 2018. This equates to a back pocket saving of $160 per household a year.

While three quarters of Australians care about reducing waste, there’s still a lot of work to be done with Australians wasting a collective $8.9 billion on food in 2018, a total of $890 per household.

Generationally, Baby Boomers remain the least wasteful of all Australians, throwing out only $430 (seven per cent) of their food. Baby Boomers are also the generation more likely to be annoyed by their own (87 per cent) and others’ food waste (85 per cent) and care the most about reducing waste (85 per cent). Generation X on the other hand wasted $838 in 2018, $85 less than in 2017.

It seems that those under 36 – the Millenials – are the repeat offenders when it comes to food waste and practicing bad habits. Gen Z and Gen Y are still the biggest dollar value wasters, binning in excess of $1,200 in 2018. This is despite the fact that Gen Y and Gen Z are significantly more willing than their older counterparts to pay extra for food that is produced in environmentally-sustainable ways and is humane or organic.

The research found there was a small difference between city dwellers (13 per cent) and their rural counterparts (11 per cent) waste levels, rivalry between states and territories continues.

Queenslanders were the only state whose food waste behaviour has regressed, with the research revealing they wasted an extra $43 a year.

Per capita percentage, West Australians and people in NSW were the worst culprits, wasting 12 per cent of their grocery shop, while people in the Northern Territory and Tasmania were the least wasteful, only throwing away nine per cent of their shop.

Victorians made the biggest improvement, reducing their food waste year-on-year by 5.5 per cent, totalling almost $300 a year per household.

“The Rabobank Food Waste Report shows us that the tide is turning in Australia when it comes to food waste and attitudes are translating into actions, with a total $700 million reduction to our food waste bill in one year,” said Glenn Wealands, head of client experience, Rabobank Australia and New Zealand.

“The results are encouraging, however, it is key that Australian households focus on reducing waste even further, while also saving money for their families.”

New food delivery trends are increasing food waste, with those who shop for groceries online and those who use food delivery services wasting significantly more food than those not using these services.

‘On demand’ food delivery services are linked to food waste, with those who use food delivery services wasting 15.2 per cent of their food, compared to 8.4 per cent among those who do not. Those who online grocery shop are also more likely to waste food. The report found that people who do at least 20 per cent of their grocery shopping online waste 19 per cent of the food they buy.

The main culprit for food waste is food going off before it can be finished (75 per cent), while 45 per cent of Australians are simply buying too much during their weekly shop and 34 per cent admit they waste food because of insufficient meal planning. Lastly, 41 per cent of people with kids at home said food was wasted because their kids didn’t eat the food that was prepared for them.

Many Australians are already actively embracing better habits at home that are helping to reduce their food waste, including:

  • 50 per cent use a shopping list when buying groceries;
  • 38 per cent eating leftovers;
  • 36 per cent planning meals in advance; and
  • 30 per cent freezing food.

More than a third of all food produced globally never even reaches the dining table, 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. The resources like water, fuel and fertilisers used to grow that food are also wasted.

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

“While it is 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, and more urgently, implement better practices to reduce waste, while also improving the finances of all Australians.

“At Rabobank, we are passionate about building awareness of this issue and helping Australians understand the role they can play in contributing to the future sustainability of our food.”

The full results were released at Rabobank’s Farm2Fork Summit, alongside the launch of Rabobank’s Food Truck – an interactive, multi-purpose vehicle, which will tour the country throughout the year, bringing better food sustainability knowledge to Australia.