Reduced food waste #3

Approximately a third of food grown is wasted. Project Drawdown claims:

As we are relatively affluent, New Zealanders waste a lot of food, summarised here as $872 million, and that doesn’t include the environmental costs.

Progress in Northland

A report by Dr Laupepa Va’a of the Northland DHB led to the establishment of Food Rescue Northland – Kai Whakaora in 2016. Their website illustrates the many ways that food surplus and consumers are linked together. In a few months in 2017, Food Rescue Northland, rescued 5 tonnes of food, feeding 11,700 people.

Food waste at source

Driven in part by the aesthetic standards enforced by supermarkets and export markets, a lot of food is wasted at harvest. Three strategies can change this – increasing consumer awareness, promoting “ugly” food and rescuing seconds for processing and distributing through organisations such as Food Rescue Northland.

Food waste in the distribution chain

The distribution chain includes transportation and storage of food. Seasonality is a big issue here. Consumers now expect to be able to purchase apples year round. For example, this article reports the antioxidant content of apples reduces over time in storage. Food storage leads to inevitable losses, requires energy and, usually refrigeration. Accessing local food – as close as your garden – reduces this source of waste.

Food waste by retailers

The need to present aesthetically ideal produce creates waste in supermarkets. Another issue is expiry dates. The French government addressed this problem passing legislation to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food.

Waste from hotel kitchens, restaurants and cafes also need to be quantified and strategies developed to reduce waste.

Food waste in homes

Reducing food waste ultimately depends on individual choices. Advocacy to reduce food waste worked with the UK’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign. They reported 14% reduced food waste in a West London campaign with a return of £8 for every £1 invested. Inspired by the UK initiative, Love Food Hate Waste is  now underway in New Zealand. This page provides hints on reducing waste.

Food harvested from home gardens reduces waste, as the food is typically harvested as it matures or ripens, with enough harvested for a meal or to give away. The food will also be nutritionally superior. Supporting the development of home and community gardens is one of many strategies available to reduce food waste.


  • What is the volume, or approximate volume of total food consumption and food waste in Northland?
  • What are the food recovery options operating in Northland and how can they be replicated?
  • How can food recovery initiatives be sustained?
  • What is the extent of nutrition deficit in Northland and to what extent can food recovery initiatives remediate it?
  • How can the public be engaged to reduce food waste and increase home and community gardening?