New Zealanders are wasting less food, but the cost of what’s being thrown out has risen to $3.2 billion a year, a survey suggests.
The Rabobank-KiwiHarvest Food Waste survey of 1500 found households were throwing away 12.2 per cent of the food they bought, down from 13.4 per cent last year.
This translates to $1510 of food being thrown out per household each year.
But the growing cost of food meant the overall value of food being put in the bin is up from $3.1b to $3.2b.
Respondents were mostly concerned about the waste of money involved, with this cited as a key concern by 74 per cent.
Gen Z respondents estimated they wasted significantly less than last year (19.2 per cent form 28.2 per cent). However, they continue to be the most wasteful of all the age groups.
Rabobank head of sustainable business development Blake Holgate said with high food inflation over the last year, he expected to see bigger changes in food waste behaviours and attitudes, but the survey results show they remain largely unchanged.
The survey found the key reasons for wasting food continued to be ‘food going off before you can finish it’ (50 per cent) and ‘before use-by and best-before dates” (32 per cent), while the major food waste concerns remained ‘cost’ (74 per cent) and ‘feelings of guilt that other people around New Zealand going without’ (35 per cent).
Types of food ending up in the bin were in line with last year, with vegetables making up 38 per cent, bread 29 per cent and fruit 25 per cent.
KiwiHarvest food rescue charity founder Deborah Manning said improvements in a few key areas have helped drive the small drop in estimated food waste.
“One of the major positives in the survey findings was that more Kiwis are now correctly defining what is meant by a best-before food label (63 per cent versus 57 per cent previously).
“And this flowed through to a sizable lift in the number of people saying they routinely eat food after best-before dates (18 per cent compared to 13 per cent previously) when the food is not damaged or perished.”
People are also planning better, eating leftovers and buying less food, Manning said.