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Food waste in Australian homes: evidence for designing interventions

Coinciding with Stop Food Waste Day (April 27, 2022) is the release of the landmark report: Food Waste in Australian Households: Evidence for designing interventions (Fight Food Waste CRC). For those working to reduce food waste, this report outlines the most impactful areas to focus interventions on. 

Australian households throw out a staggering $19.3 billion of food every year – more than half of the annual $36.6 billion worth of food waste from farm to fork in the Australian economy. Australia is committed to halving its food waste by 2030 and reducing household food waste by at least 30% is required to achieve Australia’s goal (FIAL, 2021).

Reducing the amount of food waste from households means targeting areas where the biggest impacts can be made, such as:

  • Targeting behaviours most linked to less waste (e.g. preparing the right amount)
  • Focusing on the products wasted most often (e.g. high value products like meat, or quantities like bread)
  • Supporting high waste consumer groups (e.g. families with children living at home).

This evidence is based on the most comprehensive research of food provisioning in householders ever conducted in Australia.

Whether the focus is on a specific behaviour, types of food or an audience, this report outlines those able to achieve the greater impacts for campaigns and interventions including government, industry and policy-makers.

You can access the full report here.

Key insights from the report:

What behaviours need to be encouraged?

  1. Prepare appropriate amount
  2. Plan for changes in plans
  3. Eat leftovers
  4. Purchase appropriate amount
  5. Eat oldest items first
  6. Appropriate storage in fridge/freezer
  7. Encourage small servings

Food categories to prioritise for interventions

(Top 5 based on $ value)
  • Meat and seafood
  • Meals
  • Bread, bakery, confectionary and snacks
  • Fresh vegetables/fresh herbs 
  • Condiments, dried herbs, spices, spreads, oils.

What products to prioritise for interventions?

  • Sliced bread and bread rolls
  • Yoghurt
  • Potatoes
  • Cheese
  • Bananas
  • Pasta (cooked)
  • Salads
  • Apples
  • Rice (cooked)
  • Ham
  • Tomatoes
  • Chicken (cooked)
  • Milk

What message frames are most effective?

  • Save money ($ or %) by reducing food waste
  • Avoid throwing money in the bin by reducing food waste
  • Save water, land and other scare resources used in producing the food which is wasted

Detailed findings can be found in full report here.

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