Food waste: farmers getting on top of issue

Tougher times may have led to better food waste behaviour


Farm2Fork
Rabobank's Global chairman Wiebe Draijer says the food waste issue is one of the biggest confronting the world and one of the big levers that can help reduce carbon emissions if controlled properly.

Rabobank's Global chairman Wiebe Draijer says the food waste issue is one of the biggest confronting the world and one of the big levers that can help reduce carbon emissions if controlled properly.

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Aussies still waste one-ninth of their food.

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The average Australian household wasted about $890 worth of food last year, an improved figure on previous years, but still a staggering degree of wastage.

The 2019 Rabobank food waste report found we are doing better as potential wasters but there is till a huge way to go, and awareness is the key. Men and women are both equal in food wastage.

It found farmers are wising up to food wastage and becoming increasingly more innovative in making sure their products were used properly throughout the food chain. It also found regional Australians were less wasteful than city consumers, mainly because they appreciated the value of food more.

Rabobank also found its rural customers were quite resilient, with a third actively mitigating the severe drought.

The main findings of the report were:

  • Australians have reduced their food waste by $700 million from last year
  • A total of $8.9billion of food was wasted in 2018, down from $9.6bn in 2017 and $10b in 2016
  • Australians have reduced their food waste by $160 per household (In 2017, an average of $1050 of food wasted compared to $890 in 2018).
  • We're still wasting $74 a month on food waste
  • 86% of Aussie households still waste food every week
  • 80% of Aussies are annoyed when they waste food and 78% are annoyed when others waste food
  • On average Australia's are spending $151 a week on food
  • There are 14 per cent who say they waste zero food, meaning they eat or repurpose all of their food
  • The research found that City dwellers waste more ($995 per year) than their rural counterparts ($739)
  •  For consumers who have a higher household income, they are more likely to buy produce directly, check where their food is produced and be willing to pay more for food produced locally - but also waste more than others, averaging 14.6 per cent

The good news was that consumer habits were changing and there were many new innovative ideas coming forward on how to control waste from re-purposing thrown out food, to increasing shelf life and getting standardisation of use by dates. Packaging was also a critical issue.

Farmers were making sure little was wasted in their product line and were aware of the challenges.

Glenn Wealands, head of Rabobank's client experience, said Australia faced a massive challenge to control food waste as it had 5 per cent of the world's arable land and food pressures would grow.

He applauded farmers for showing innovation in the area. "Farmers are doing more to control waste," he said. "They are looking more deeply at what they can do to close the gap on wastage."

Rabobank's global chairman Wiebe Draijer said food waste was about one of the third biggest issues facing the planet. With the population growth the world needed four more planets to feed everyone, so innovation was very important. "We need to look at how we grow food in a healthy and sustainable way, to reduce effects on biodiversity and forests and that is a big, big challenge.

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"Almost a third of food is wasted. Controlling food is an economic lever that is humungous. It its the third biggest lever we have to control carbon emissions."

Rabobank was funding innovative businesses in this waste space including factories that used cast-off ends of tomatoes from places such as McDonalds to produce tomato soup.

NSW was lagging behind other states in controlling food taste.

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