Australia needs a food waste strategy

Posted by Josette Dunn on 3rd May 2010

Australia must adopt a national food waste strategy to ensure the long-term sustainability of the nation’s food supply, the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) said today at the launch of the NSW Government’s Love Food, Hate Waste campaign.

While Australia’s leading food and grocery companies are already reducing waste, AFGC – an inaugural sponsor of the Love Food, Hate Waste campaign – urged all states and territories as well as households to adopt a similar approach and minimise food waste.

AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell congratulated the NSW Government on the innovative project which aims to reduce the amount of energy, water and resources used to grow, package and supply food.

“AFGC considers food waste as one of the key environmental issues facing the nation,” Ms Carnell said.

An analysis of household expenditure on food, conducted by the Australia Institute in November 2009 showed that Australian households throw away more than $5 billion worth of food each year. While on average, Australia’s food and grocery manufacturers send the equivalent of less than one per cent of finished products to landfill each year, according to AFGC’s 2007-08 Towards Sustainability Report.

“This level of waste is unsustainable – it’s bad for the environment and for the economy,” Ms Carnell said.

“We need a fundamental shift in thinking and that’s why industry is calling for food waste to be an integral part of Australia’s national waste strategy. Industry is committed to working in partnership with government, retailers and the wider community to ensure Australia’s food supply is sustainable into the future.”

Australia’s food and grocery companies are also helping to reduce food waste by donating vast amounts of products to people in desperate need through Foodbank Australia.

Known as the warehouse of the charity sector, Foodbank is the largest national food relief organisation that delivers valuable food and drink supplies via charities, including St Vincent De Paul, to thousands of people doing it tough.

Foodbank Australia distributes more than 18 million kilograms of food through welfare agencies across Australia which in turn becomes 24 million meals served to people in desperate need – the equivalent of about 60,000 meals every day.