Less food wasted, farmers more appreciated during COVID-19 shutdown

Households are wasting less food in the COVID-19 shutdown and these good habits are set to continue, according to a new study released today by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

The new social research also showed 86 per cent of people are glad to live in a country like Australia that grows its own food and 70 per cent appreciate farmers more.

The Department's Love Food Hate Waste program manager Amanda Kane said Love Food Hate Waste program research showed adversity had helped NSW households appreciate food and where it comes from significantly more.

“People are wasting less food, they’re making the most of the food they buy and they are really valuing the role of our food producers and our country’s food supply chain more.

“Given the impacts of food waste on the environment, including emissions from landfill and the waste of resources in growing food only to throw it away, these findings pave the way for us all to maintain these habits which waste less food.

The ‘Food Management in COVID-19’ study was commissioned by the Department for its Love Food Hate Waste program. It was undertaken by social research company Instinct and Reason over the weekend of 15-18 May 2020 and involved 415 households.

The study aimed to understand peoples’ food management practices under COVID-19 shutdown rules and whether changes in behaviour would endure.

The survey showed NSW households were practicing more good food waste behaviours during the shutdown, such as planning meals, storing food correctly and using up leftovers. It also showed that they intended to keep up these practices afterwards.

Key findings include:

  • 30% of people more often checked what food they already had prior to leaving the house to shop, 19% wrote a shopping list more often
  • 20% of people planned more often to keep extra for lunch or dinner the next day
  • 30% tried new meals and recipes more frequently
  • 39% bought extra food, with 32% buying more “just in case” and 45% buying more food out of concern it wouldn’t be available next time
  • 59% say they are determined to waste less food due to the lockdown experience
  • Most NSW people have found the new food management behaviours they have adopted to be very useful and plan to keep doing it after the lockdown ends
  • 67% said they will continue to consider the best way to store food, 65% will continue to check what food they have before shopping and 64% will keep freezing food to extend its life
  • The majority of people (65%) shopped for food with the same frequency as normal during lockdown, 14% shopped online more often
  • 46% say they appreciate food more and 47% understand more about where food comes from and what it takes to get it to them

Download the full report from the Love Food Hate Waste website at www.lovefoodhatewaste.nsw.gov.au/about-us/research