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Food waste during COVID-19



57% of Australians are wasting less food than before COVID-19


As COVID-19 impacts every aspect of our lives, the Australian public find themselves spending more time at home than ever before and as a consequence our relationship with food has changed.


Weekly research conducted by Pollinate during COVID-19 shows 38% of Australians are eating more food than before isolation, with the biggest increases seen for fresh food and vegetables. Also, 44% of Australians are experimenting more with different cuisines, which is but the tip of the iceberg in our changing relationship with food:


  • 56% of Australians are shopping more purposefully for food. This suggests people are thinking more about the food they bring home and how it will be used.

  • 48% are cooking more from scratch: Utilising what they have and potentially turning cooking into more of a family activity.


Right now may be the biggest societal shift ever in addressing food waste. Addressing food waste requires systematic behaviour change, and this behaviour change in happening right now in Australian households as 57% of Australians say they are wasting less food than before COVID-19.


There is now the opportunity to reinforce this reduction in food waste as a permanent change in society involving more purposeful food choices. To help drive beneficial behavioural change within both the private and public sectors, Pollinate has compiled a report to share research implications around food waste behaviour with the intention of informing public strategies regarding waste-related systems and practice.


OzHarvest data shows that every fifth bag of groceries ended up in the bin: 20% of every households groceries. The changes we are seeing right now regarding our relationship with food are anchored in a truth: we were wasting a lot of food, and wasting a lot of money on wasted food. Here is the fundamental change to our relationship with food that we needed to have. Now that Australians have been forced to spend more time cooking, behaviours have been adapted and households are seeing the benefits: less waste, more family time and healthier food.


This reduction in food waste has the potential to become a reinforcing loop: with better consumer understanding to support action this reduction in food waste could become a habit and significantly reduce food waste in Australia. There is now the opportunity to reinforce this reduction in food waste as a permanent change in society involving more purposeful food choices. To help drive beneficial behavioural change within both the private and public sectors, Pollinate has compiled a report to share research implications around food waste behaviour with the intention of informing public strategies regarding waste-related systems and practice. For a copy of Pollinate Insights: Fighting Food Waste, May 2020 please get in touch at info@pollinate.com.au.


More information

OzHarvest, "Food Waste Facts"

BC:AC World Before & After Covid-19: How over 1,000 Australian households are thinking, feeling and acting in a COVID-19 world, and what this means for the future of brands

Pollinate, Pollinate Insights: Fighting Food Waste, May 2020




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