A Guide to Navigating the Australian Food Waste Landscape


What’s the problem?


Food waste doesn’t just occur in our homes, our fridges, and on our plates. Food is wasted across every stage of the supply chain; from when food is harvested until it reaches our homes, food goes to waste unnecessarily. In fact, the National Baseline Report states that every year 7.3 million tonnes of food go to waste in Australia alone.


What's happening on the commercial side of Australian food waste?


When we talk about food waste, you may imagine the day-old leftovers at the back of your fridge. However, the biggest culprit lies in the commercial industry - 55% (or 4.1 million tonnes) of all food going to waste happens before it reaches the supermarket, your favourite restaurant, or your home. The total amount of food wasted is equivalent to 561 semi-trailers (yes, the big trucks!) full of food, going to waste EVERY SINGLE DAY. We were shocked when we discovered this - and the point is that very few people actually know this happens.


What's happening on the consumer side of Australian food waste?


However, food waste doesn’t just occur in the commercial sector. In our own homes, restaurants, pubs, and institutions, 3.2 million tonnes of food goes to waste every year. That’s each Australian producing 128kg of food waste every year or throwing 25.6 shopping bags straight into the bin!


What has been done about food waste in the world and Australia already?


Food waste is an internationally recognized issue, and the UN has dedicated Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 to “...halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses” by 2030. In 2019, the UN even designated September 29th as the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, recognizing the fundamental role that sustainable food production plays in promoting food security and nutrition.


The UN dedicated September 29th to the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste

In Australia, the Federal Government launched the National Food Waste Strategy to halve food waste by 2030. The Australian Government is investing more than $10 million to support research directly related to reducing food waste in conjunction with industry through AgriFutures Australia, Cooperative Research Centres, the Entrepreneurs’ Programme, CSIRO and the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre. These organizations are supporting research into the development of higher-value products from retrieved or converted food waste, and are helping to develop alternative markets and advance digital technologies.


In Victoria (where Yume is based), the Victorian Government launched “Recycling Victoria: A New Plan”, which contains their ten-year action plan to reduce Victoria’s food waste by half. In addition to that, they are also offering plenty of grants and recently launched the Circular Economy Business Education Centre (of which our CEO, Katy Barfield, is a founding member!) to help businesses transition from a linear to a circular economy.


What is Yume doing about food waste?


Yume’s mission is to create a world without food waste. We run Australia’s first B2B online marketplace for surplus food. We have saved over 2,300,000 kgs of quality surplus food, returning over $7 million to Australian farmers and manufacturers and avoiding greenhouse gas emissions of food rotting in landfills. Our marketplace is custom-built and we are working with thousands of industry leaders such as Unilever and Kellogg’s and buyers like Sodexo and Accor Hotels. If you are part of the food industry and want to know more, you can sign up here!


What can you do about food waste?


Vote with your dollar! You can support amazing businesses that are using surplus food in new and innovative ways. Like Two Birds Australia, who bought stranded blackberries off the Yume platform and used them in a sour beer named “Purple Reign”. Your dollar is the most important way to get companies to realize the important issues and change their own behaviour.


Look at your own household waste. You can check out this informative infographic from the UN to see how you can reduce your own food waste.

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