A new food waste survey shows we’re chucking out 8.6 percent of our groceries each week - most of which is fruit and vegetables. Over a year, that’s an average of $1259 in the bin per household, or about $23 each week. 

The Rabobank-KiwiHarvest survey, released June 18, asked people about their shopping, waste and consumption habits.

On the whole, food waste was less than in 2019 - when households were found to be binning 10.2 percent of their weekly supermarket shop. However, increased food prices have meant the mismatch between what we buy and consume is costing more.

Overall, it comes out to an estimated $2.4 billion over 12 months - up from $2 billion in 2019. 

Tod Charteris, Rabobank New Zealand CEO, says while there have been positive waste-reduction changes, there’s plenty of room for improvement. 

“In comparison to 2019, Kiwis are now more likely to be eating leftovers, considering portion size, freezing uneaten food and eating food past the ‘best before’ date,” he says. 

More people are also using worm farms or composting, which is reducing the amount of wasted food going to landfill, the survey found. 

However, a lot of people were also throwing away food they’d never touched. Specifically, 42 percent of participants had thrown away unopened or untried food in the past 12 months. Further, 63 percent of people said the main reason for wasted food was it going off before being consumed. The second most common reason was not being able to eat it before the expiry or best-before date. 

Of the food going in the garbage, two-thirds was fruit and vegetables, the survey found. Bread made up 27 percent, and the remainder was meat (red meat, poultry, seafood, pork). 

A breakdown by age also showed Millenials and Gen Z, as well as urban dwellers, chucked the most food away. Baby Boomers were identified to be the best at practising behaviours that reduced household waste. 

“The research found Baby Boomers estimate they throw away just five percent of their household food spend with Gen X not far behind at six percent,” Rabobank analyst Blake Holgate says.  

“Then comes a sizable jump to Gen Y [Millennials] at 12 percent with Gen Z estimating they waste the largest proportion of food spend at 16 percent.”

Overall, 1509 people participated in the survey, which was conducted via online interviews over two weeks in April.