AFPA study finds Aussies chucking food but eating poorly

PACKAGING: An image from the AFPA study on fresh produce consumption and waste in Australian Homes. This was typical of the fridge of an older family.
PACKAGING: An image from the AFPA study on fresh produce consumption and waste in Australian Homes. This was typical of the fridge of an older family.

AUSSIES are throwing out up to 10 per cent of their fresh produce purchases but not getting enough into their diets.

A study commissioned by the Australian Fresh Produce Alliance (AFPA) found participants estimated they were discarding 5-10pc of their fresh produce purchases weekly.

The study looked at 38 households across different life stages, incomes and ethnicities to better understand the relationship between fresh produce packaging, food waste and recycling in the home.

Researchers undertook in-home interviews, which provided an opportunity to observe consumers fridges, pantries, kitchens and bins.

It suggested Australian families need strategies to reduce food waste to ensure they get value for money.

AFPA chief executive officer, Michael Rogers, said the study demonstrated consumers who particularly live in the outer suburbs and have young families are looking for ways to reduce the financial burden of food waste in their households and that they need better advice on how to do this.

PLANNING: A meal planning spreadsheet from a lower income, young family lifestage household.

PLANNING: A meal planning spreadsheet from a lower income, young family lifestage household.

"A really key finding of this research is that the greater the level of meal planning undertaken by a household, the greater their reduction in food waste," Mr Rogers said.

"This can save Australian families money every week and farmers and retailers can support this through seasonal meal ideas and meal plans which use all of the weekly fruit and vegetables purchased."

READ: Click on the image to download the full report from the Australian Fresh Produce Alliance.

READ: Click on the image to download the full report from the Australian Fresh Produce Alliance.

According to the AFPA, only 5.4pc of Australian's are eating the recommended intake of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Nutrition Australia says only 4pc of Australians eat their recommended amount of vegetables each day.

In recent years it has pushed National Nutrition Week which encourages Australians to "try for five" and get five serves of vegetables into their daily diets.

Its three strateggies for both increasing vegetable consumption and reducing waste were:

  • Eat more parts of vegetables such as skins, stalks and leaves
  • Use up ageing vegetables that would otherwise go in the bin
  • Choose 'ugly' and 'imperfect' vegetables to prevent them going to landfill.

The Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre puts the annual cost of food waste at an estimated $20 billion to the Australian economy.

The AFPA research identifed three key themes of meal planning, convenience formats, and storage and use of fresh fruit and vegetables.

And although many bemoan plastic and packing waste, the study found packaged produce was observed in the majority of fridges and kitchens.

"We're seeing Australian families utilise packaged product for the benefit of portion control and keeping product fresher for longer," Mr Rogers said.

FRUIT: A typical fruit bowl on the bench within a young family home.

FRUIT: A typical fruit bowl on the bench within a young family home.

"This ensures that consumers have the maximum amount of time available to use fresh produce which is an overwhelming positive.

"Keeping product as fresh as possible is critical in both reducing food waste and ensuring Australian's are able to access quality, fresh and nutritious fresh produce."

"Ultimately, the goal for the fresh produce supply chain should be to work with Australian families to reduce the financial and environmental burden of food waste, while increasing access to fresh fruit and vegetables for the overall health of Australians."