Tackling the problem of food waste in New Zealand

Danielle LeGallais knows what it’s like to deal with food insecurity.

“It’s been difficult for those seven years. The long term effects it’s had on me and my family is why I have this fire burning in my stomach,” she said.

LeGallais shared his story at the second Food Waste Summit in Wellington, an event intended to bring policy makers, consumers and entrepreneurs together to tackle the problem.

Former Labor Minister Iain Lees-Galloway, who now holds a post with the Aotearoa Food Rescue Alliance, said: “you’ve got a lot of different people trying to tackle food waste in different ways, they’re tackling it at different points in the supply chain, they’ve got different kinds of solutions. And so this is a really great opportunity for us to talk about how we can integrate these different solutions and work together to tackle what is one of our biggest environmental challenges.”

A recent study shows that more than 100,000 tonnes of food are wasted each year in New Zealand, at a total cost of $3.1 billion, or $1,520 per household.

“It’s huge actually. And a lot of people are working hard to reduce food waste, but the truth is that at every stage of the food production system there are leaks,” says Lees-Galloway.

The worst culprit among our trashed foods is bread, with over 15,000 tonnes wasted last year, which is why Diane and her Rescued Kitchen team are committed to the fight against waste.

She says: “We save (bread) before its expiration date, then process it into what we call reclaimed bread flour, and use it in a range of innovative new products, all from baking mix . »

“Our goal is that any product currently made from flour can be made from reclaimed bread. So in terms of the circular economy, we’re actually smart material. So we’re really excited about that.”

Wendy Zhou and her company Perfectly Imperfect are tackling food waste at the source.

A recent study in the United States showed that in one part of the country almost half of produce never left the farm because it did not meet size or appearance standards despite being perfectly good. to eat.

There is no data on food loss on New Zealand farms yet, but Zhou and his team are already hard at work, collecting these unwanted products and packing them into mystery boxes for consumers and food businesses. Auckland.

“My professional background is understanding consumer behavior, so I know why they set (standards) this way. As humans, we always choose the ones we like.”

She says New Zealand produces enough food to feed 40 million people, yet 1 in 5 New Zealanders are food insecure. As a trained statistician, she says those numbers didn’t match her.

They now have over 2,300 customers in Auckland and plan to expand, so “everyone can try the food that looks a little different but tastes fabulous!”

Food rescue services like Kaibosh in Wellington are also upping their game.

Last year they rescued and redirected over 700 tonnes of food for people in need in the Wellington area. Lees-Galloway says these services are a no-brainer in terms of returns.

“We recently commissioned a study, and that study showed that for every dollar invested in food rescue, $4.50 of social value is returned. This value comes in the form of reducing greenhouse gases, getting food to the hungry, and supporting community development. “

Crucial to ensuring people’s food security, as New Zealand ranks last among high-income countries in the OECD according to a global study that measures how well a country uses its resources to ensure compliance with the people’s right to food.

New Zealand scored 82.5% on its metric, while Switzerland, Japan and Austria all scored above 97% efficiency.

LeGallais, who is also a qualified lawyer, says it’s just not good enough.

“We have to do better, we have to do better.”

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