New research has revealed that, every year, Australian households are disposing of $5bn worth of food, and the number one category of food being discarded is fruit and vegetables, valued at $1.1bn.
“Throwing out over a billion dollars’ worth of produce every year is an alarming revelation," says Ausveg senior communications officer, Courtney Burger. "We would encourage Australians to take the opportunity to actively incorporate more vegetables into their diets and take advantage of the affordability of the fresh fruit and vegetables available in this country."
The research has been published in the Australia’s food and nutrition 2012 report, recently released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
On average, each Australian household throws out $616 of fruit and vegetables every year, with higher income earners being the worst offenders, averaging $803 per year compared to lower income houses binning $518 annually.
“Change not only needs to happen for consumers binning food at home, but there is also sometimes food wastage within the supply chain as a result of retailers not accepting produce because it doesn't meet cosmetic criteria,” says Burger.
An example of this avoidable waste is in the banana industry, with an estimated 10-30% of produce being discarded before it's put on the market. The majority of the waste in this instance is being caused by retailers’ rejection of the fruit because it doesn't meet 'specifications'.
“As consumers, we need to change our attitudes towards fresh fruit and vegetables, and stop expecting them to be perfect and unblemished," says Burger, "because if we accepted produce that was slightly imperfect, then retailers may have more relaxed selection criteria and this could combat this excessive waste.
“This is a global issue, with the majority of discarded food being highly perishable items such as takeaway food, meat, fish, dairy and bakery foods. There is a considerable opportunity to increase our consumption of fruit and vegetables, which will only assist in combating serious health threats in the community such as diabetes and obesity."