Food waste is a global problem. Growers, producers, restaurants, cafes and individual consumers all contribute to food waste, costing everyone economically and environmentally. Fortunately, there are simple and practical solutions.
Love Food, Hate Waste (LFHW) is a campaign collectively run by sixty councils around New Zealand, in conjunction with WasteMINZ and Wanaka Wastebusters. WasteMINZ is a membership-based organization with a voice on waste management, resource recovery and contaminated land sectors in New Zealand. Wanaka Wastebusters is a community enterprise that focuses on reducing, reusing, and recycling to achieve zero waste in New Zealand. Inspired by the founding campaign in the UK, NZ launched LFHW in 2016 in hopes of improving the community by reducing the amount of food waste in NZ through awareness and offering solutions and ideas on how to do so.
A 2018 WasteMINZ study showed that every $1 spent reducing food waste creates $14 savings. The study showed NZ cafes and restaurants throw away 24,372 tonnes of food per annum. Seven percent was food spoilage, 33 percent was plate waste, and sixty percent was preparation waste. Other studies show 61 percent of food waste is avoidable.
To tackle this massive issue, LFHW launched an online campaign to raise awareness by sharing tips and information on their website and social media platforms and hosting cooking events to educate New Zealanders on reusing their groceries and being more sustainable.
In 2018, an online survey was launched to determine whether the campaign was successfully changing people's behaviour and attitude towards food wastage. The survey showed 50 percent of people were aware of food wastage in NZ, which proved an increase in awareness about the issue.
The campaign offers various solutions to reduce the amount of food wastage. It offers multiple tips and methods that can benefit the consumer in reducing the amount of food being wasted. LFHW also offers promotional events that show consumers ways they can reduce waste within their household, community, and volunteer opportunities.
According to food production and packaging specialist, Vacpack, reducing food waste is easy and doable for not only individuals but also manufacturers.
Some strategies include cafes discounting food at the end of the day or donating leftovers to food banks, whilst restaurants can offer takeaway bags. However, the most efficient strategy is portion size. Buying and preparing food into smaller portions for practical packaging and storage means a better shelf life for commercial operations.
Vacpack designed the Cook-Chill system for commercial use. Products such as soups, sauces, purees, and pie fillings can be portioned into bags, dishes or bottled, then chilled for an extended shelf life of more than 28 days, then heated and used as needed. This greatly reduces food waste and lowers production and storage costs.
Businesses can freeze food for a year or more without risk of freezer burn or ice build-up using the Cook-Chill system. Freezer damage is due to ice crystals in the packed air. If there is no air in the pack, then there's no freezer burn.
Vacpack will be showcasing its systems at the Fine Food Show in Auckland, allowing food manufacturers to find the best system for their needs.
"You don't have to be a commercial food producer to reduce food waste," said Vacpack. Consumers can also contribute to food waste reduction by investing in a domestic vacuum packer. If you are taking steps to reduce waste, share your contribution by using the #lovefoodhatewaste tag.
For advice on how your business can help reduce food waste, visit the Vacpack stand at the Fine Foods New Zealand show or make contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.