COVID derails Aussies’ progress in fight against food waste
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COVID-19 derails Aussies’ progress in fight against food waste

•    Australians’ annual food waste bill hits $10.3 billion during lockdown

•    Average annual food waste increases from 11% pre-pandemic to 12.7%

•    The use of food delivery services correlates to individuals wasting twice as much food

Rabobank has today released its 2020 Food Waste Report showing that the Coronavirus pandemic has derailed Australia’s progress in reducing food waste, leading to a spike in the amount of food Aussie households are throwing out.

This year, Rabobank surveyed Australians in March and again in September, finding that food waste increased significantly after the onset of the pandemic as people focused on keeping safe at home, spending more time cooking (46%), experimenting with recipes (37%) and ordering food delivery services (23%).

The research shows that Australians were making positive inroads to reducing food waste before the pandemic hit, with food wastage dropping almost two percentage points from an average of 12.9% of food purchased in 2019 to 11.1% in early 2020.

The latest September results show a lapse in progress, with Aussies’ annual food waste creeping back up during the pandemic, with the average household now wasting 12.7% of the food they buy, totalling $10.3 billion nationally. The dollar value of food waste also hit an all-time high, reaching $1,043 per year per household, reflecting a greater weekly food spend during lockdown months.

Glenn Wealands, Head of Client Experience, Rabobank Australia, said, “It’s to be expected that food waste has been de-prioritised by Australians during this stressful year when our attention has been focused on other urgent issues. 

”We were making headway in terms of minimising food waste before we faced this pandemic, however, our research shows we’ve headed off track. The average household is now wasting nearly 13% of the groceries they buy and also spending more on food delivery and self-prepare food services. We’ve also seen almost 10% of households increasing their spend on food to stockpile items in case supply ran out during lockdown.”

Mr Wealands said “as the country emerges from the pandemic, we can begin to make changes to jump start the fight against food waste”.

“Think about how and when you can use the excess food in your pantry and freezer, check your cupboards and the use by dates on packages to ensure you’re using what you have, make a weekly meal plan before you shop online and factor in a night off when you order your favourite local takeaway,” he said.

“These measures will have a huge impact on reducing our food waste collectively, as well as being kinder to the hip pocket for Aussies.”

Delivery services soar relating to increased food waste

Findings also spotlight that there has been an increase in the number of people using food delivery services in 2020, rising from 54% pre-pandemic to 61% currently, with more people using these services at least once a week (23%, which is up 9% from pre-pandemic).

As dining out took a hit, Australians have also increasingly turned to self-prepare ‘meal-kit’ food services, from 28% pre-pandemic to 36% currently.

While food delivery and ‘meal kits’ have offered a welcomed release for many from the monotony of cooking every evening, the research shows a worrying correlation between uptake of these services and increased food waste; those most likely to use these services also waste over double the amount of food when compared to those who don’t.

“This is a real watch out for consumers,” commented Mr Wealands. “We note through the research that consumers are working harder than ever to keep their finances in check, so it’s especially important for those that order pre-prepared meals, to be mindful that unless you’re using these services wisely it’s bad for your wallet and bad for reducing food waste.”  

It’s time for change

The research shows that the majority (77%) of Australians care about reducing waste, with 78% annoyed when they see food wasted and 64% wanting people to think about the impact on the environment. However, only a small group is concerned with the connection between food waste and wider environmental impacts such as climate change (24%), the loss of animals / extinction (21%),  water shortages (16%) and pollution (12%).

“Aussies clearly care about reducing their food waste, but we all need to understand that the impact is far greater than just hip-pocket savings. It’s our collective responsibility to make changes and start to minimise waste across the entire food supply chain,” Mr Wealands said.

“There are some inspiring innovations going on at all stages of food production from farmers to manufacturers, retailers and at a government level. If we all do our bit, we can have a huge impact on the amount of food wasted and create a more sustainable future.”

For more insights on the highs and lows of Australia’s fight against food waste, including the latest research data visit

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact DEC PR on:

02 8014 5033

The Rabobank Financial Health Barometer / Food Waste Report 2020

  • The 2020 Rabobank Food Waste Report is part of Rabobank’s annual Financial Health Barometer (FHB), surveying over 2,395 financial decision makers aged between 18 and 65.
  • The survey now in its tenth year polls attitudes and behaviours towards saving, debt, farming, food production and food waste. Results are weighted by gender, age and location according to statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  • Two surveys were undertaken this year, one pre-pandemic before COVID-19 restrictions set in, in March 2020, and the other as much of Australia began to emerge from the height of restrictions in September 2020, allowing for comparison of results and changes in behaviours.
  • The 2020 Rabobank Food Waste Report highlights our latest research on food waste, covering consumer trends, habits, concerns and action.
  • Rabobank will continue to cover these important issues and work to build greater awareness and action against Food Waste.


About Rabobank

  • Founded by farmers for farmers in 1898, Rabobank is the world’s leading food and agribusiness bank whose mission is to help feed a growing world population more sustainably – supporting farmers across 38 countries to grow more with less.
  • 100% of Rabobank Australia’s deposits are used to fund local food & agribusiness, which means that by saving with Rabobank, you’re growing your savings and supporting Aussie farmers to bring food to our tables.