New research reveals Kiwis waste a staggering $1.8 billion on food every year - an eighth of what they buy each week.
Findings suggest those who eat out more than three times a week are the most likely to waste food, wasting 21 per cent of the food they purchase.
The research, commissioned by a divison of rural bank and agricultural farm finance firm RaboBank New Zealand, found 94 per cent of all New Zealanders waste food, despite 79 per cent admitting they don't like to.
Rabobank New Zealand chief executive Daryl Johnson says Kiwis are significantly underestimating how much food they are wasting, and the financial cost.
"New Zealanders are very aware of food waste on an individual level, but are less aware of the bigger impact," Johnson said.
"Seventy per cent of Kiwis underestimate how much we waste as a nation, which currently equates to 122,547 tonnes" - the equivalent of 350 Boeing 747 jumbo jets or 29 kilograms per person.
Rabobank recently announced the Kickstart Food global activation programme to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world food supply.
"The demand for food is set to rise considerably as a consequence of a growing and wealthier global population, with the world population forecast to increase by two billion people to more than nine billion by 2050.
"To meet this demand, world food production will have to increase by at least 60 per cent, while at the same time arable land and natural resources are nearing their limits," Johnson said.
"On a global scale, part of the solution to this challenge is to reduce wastage so that the food that we already produce reaches where it is needed."
The leading contributor to food waste - 55 per cent - was food going off before being eaten, research shows.
Fifteen per cent was found to be from unfinished food on our plates and 7 per cent was of food not tasting as good as expected.
"Farmers and agribusinesses work hard to produce what is among the best food in the world, and we need to do more to ensure it is not thrown away," Johnson said.
Jenny Marshall of Love Food Hate Waste, an organisation providing information to help Kiwis cut wastage, says overall awareness has grown.
"It's clear that Kiwis now recognise the scale of their own contribution, but until we repeat our bin audit research in 2019 it won't be clear if this increased awareness of food waste has led to behaviour change," Marshall said.
The survey found millennials wasted the most food, while Baby Boomers wasted the least. Millennials were also the generation that most underestimated the scale of New Zealand's annual food wastage, research suggests.
"It's often presumed that younger generations are more environmentally conscious, and therefore conscious of wastage. However, the survey found younger generations were more likely to eat out, were cooking meals from scratch less often, and were less likely to eat leftovers, compared with the older generations; all behaviours that are likely to contribute to the increased rate of food wastage amongst these age groups," Johnson said.
An average 16.8 per cent of New Zealand household spending goes towards food.
"Making savings in this area could significantly impact both individual households and collectively on food wastage as a nation," he said.