Australia’s most wasted foods revealed

6th July 2021 | Eativity editors

New research by the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (FFW CRC) shows beef, bread, cheese and salad are the foods most thrown out in Australian kitchens. The study is the largest investigation ever undertaken in Australia, using data from multiple sources to determine the how, why and where of food waste in Australian homes.

FFW CRC Chief Executive Officer Dr Steven Lapidge says the researchers used online surveys, electronic kitchen diaries, audits of kerbside bins and focus groups to understand what’s really happening. The study shows that while most of us think we don’t waste food, we do – and we waste a lot. The average household throws away 219kg of food a year. That adds up to an average of $965 per person per year – enough for a holiday.

“Looking into people’s bins as well as their minds identified that not knowing what to do with leftovers is a major problem in Australia,” says Dr Lapidge. “Further, young people and families with children are likely to waste the most.”

The study also found that there’s a lot of misunderstanding about food waste, and many Australians have a lack of knowledge about what to do. For those who are working to reduce waste, this provides the perfect opportunity to share what they know about reducing food waste and help everyone to start doing something about it.

“The research provides a detailed analysis of why people waste food, the challenges and barriers for them to reduce it as well as the foods and behaviours that can be prioritised to meet the Australian government’s goal to halve food waste by 2030,” Dr Lapidge says. “A pleasing 93 percent of people over 75 regularly use up the oldest ingredient first; translating that knowledge to young people would have a big impact on what they throw away.”

Other ways to cut waste:

• Check what’s already in the fridge, freezer and pantry before shopping and take a “shelfie” so you can check what you have back home while you’re out shopping.

• Only buy what’s on your shopping list.

• Move the oldest food items to the front of the fridge and cupboard so they can be used first – and then use them first!

• Read the storage instructions provided on the packages, and then store food properly.

Want to start wasting less food? Head to the Fight Food Waste CRC’s It’s Easy As website, which offers some more great tips on how you can start cutting down on wasted food. To read the research report findings, click here.