Food Waste In Australia: Which Industries Produce The Most?

Published on
October 18, 2023
The industries that produce the most food waste in Australia

In Australia, as in many parts of the world, food waste is a serious issue with profound environmental, economic and social implications. In order to address this challenge, it’s crucial to first understand where food waste is being generated and which industries contribute the most.

The Scale of the Issue
Food waste is a complex issue that spans various stages of the supply chain, from production and distribution to consumption and disposal. Nationwide, we throw away over 7.6 million tonnes of food annually. This is the equivalent to filling the Melbourne cricket Grounds approximately nine times or 747 jumbo jets. Not only does this cost our economy in excess of $36.6 billion, but according to Foodbank Australia, waste food accounts for approximately 10% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Worse still, is that 70% of the food wasted is still perfectly edible.

Who Are The Top Contributors To Food Waste In Australia?
Statistics from Accumulate Australia reveal households as the biggest culprit when it comes to food waste. Of the 7.6 million tonnes wasted each year, 2.46 million tonnes can be attributed to households. This is the equivalent to approximately 300 kg per person, per year.

The agricultural sector is another key player in the food waste landscape. Approximately 1.68 million metric tonnes of food from the agricultural industry are wasted every year. As a result, it is the second largest contributor to food waste after households. Factors such as imperfect produce, logistical challenges and market fluctuations are the most common causes of edible food being discarded even before it reaches consumers.

It is estimated that a shocking 65% of food is wasted in the hospitality industry. Restaurants, cafes and hotels generate substantial amounts of food waste due to overproduction, spoilage, and plate waste. The fleeting nature of the hospitality business, where customer demand can be unpredictable, often leads to surplus food that ultimately goes to waste. 

The retail industry also accounts for a considerable portion of food waste. Supermarkets, in particular, face the challenge of managing unsold or perishable items. It is estimated that between 20% to 40% of fruits and vegetables are rejected before they even reach the shelf. This is predominantly due to the specific and unrealistic standards for food appearance. While efforts to donate surplus food are being made, there is still room for improvement in reducing waste at the retail level.

A Collaborative Effort for a Sustainable Future
Addressing the issue of food waste requires a multi-faceted approach, and technology is playing a pivotal role in finding innovative solutions. At enrich360®, our range of food waste dehydration machines effectively reduce the volume of food waste by up to 93%. Critically, this is achieved by heating and pulverising the scraps in an aerobic environment, or in the presence of oxygen, preventing the production of any greenhouse gases.

Industries such as hospitality, food manufacturing, and agriculture, as well as households, can all benefit immensely from the implementation of food waste dehydration machines. Not only do these machines effectively reduce the bulk of food waste, but they transform it into a nutrient-rich fertiliser. This prevents the need for any food waste to be sent to landfill, as it can instead be used to nourish local soil and gardens.

While certain industries may be more prone to generating food waste, the responsibility of addressing this issue falls on society as a whole. By fostering collaboration between businesses, governments, and consumers, we can collectively work towards reducing food waste at every stage of the supply chain.