Food Manufacturing, News, Sustainability

Action plan to reduce fruit and vegetable food waste

End Food Waste Australia in collaboration with the Australian Bananas Growers’ Council, Melons Australia, and the horticulture industry have released a new nation-wide plan to help save fresh produce and halve Australia’s food waste by 2030. 

According to End Food Waste Australia, fruits and vegetables are Australia’s most wasted foods.

More than three million tonnes of fruit and vegetables go to waste every year in Australia, that’s enough to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground to the brim five times.

New action plans have been developed to tackle horticulture food waste, identifying the nine priority actions to reduce food waste from farm to retail.

The Horticulture Sector Action Plan provides an Australian-wide view of key horticulture food waste root causes and identifies the most impactful actions to reduce food waste.

“Reducing horticulture food waste is critical to reaching Australia’s goal of halving food waste by 2030 and will have positive impacts for everyone,” says Dr Steven Lapidge chief executive officer of End Food Waste Australia.

“Tackling fresh produce waste would provide billions of dollars of economic benefits, reduce the growing environmental impact of our food system, and will directly help feed millions more food insecure Australians every year.”

The nine key action areas identified in the plan aim to reduce fresh produce food waste that occurs at every stage of the food supply chain, on farm, during transportation and manufacturing, and in retail stores.

Interventions include improving food waste data and measurement, exploring whole crop purchasing arrangements, reviewing product specifications, improving logistics to get fresh produce to food rescue charities, investing in and growing value-add opportunities and Australia’s upcycled foods market, such as freeze-dried fruits, vegetable powders and many more.

The most impactful interventions depend on the produce type, End Food Waste Australia state bananas and melons have led the way with dedicated Food Waste Action Plans and targeted priority actions.

“Food waste is a $36 billion challenge that is far too big for anyone, or any single sector, to tackle alone,” said Lapidge.

“The horticulture industry, with leadership from the bananas and melons industry and support from Queensland Government and Hort Innovation Australia have come together to demonstrate collaboration on sustainability leadership in the development of these plans,” he added.

Leon Collins, chairman of the Australian Banana Growers’ Council said the Australian Banana Growers’ Council were proud to be at the forefront of the horticulture industry in finding solutions to reduce banana food waste.

“Australian Banana growers have always embraced ways to improve our industry and this plan to reduce food waste is no exception,” said Collins.

Johnathon Davey, executive officer of Melons Australia and the Australian melon industry said, “This plan is strategic and presents a way forward and significant growth opportunities for our growers, for the melon industry, for all Australians and the environment.”

Davey said, “We acknowledge that by reducing food waste we create opportunities to improve grower and the broader supply chains profitability, reduce the environmental footprint of food waste and assist those Australians experiencing food insecurity.”

The Horticulture Sector Action Plan, Banana Food Waste Action Plan and Melon Food Waste Action Plan are available at www.endfoodwaste.com.au/horticulture

Australians across the food industry are invited to get involved in the plans Lapidge said, “Food industry businesses can begin enacting or supporting the priority actions listed in the plan and we invite other produce groups to sign up for Food Waste Action Plan. For producers wanting to take the next step we recommend joining the Australian Food Pact.”

The Horticulture Sector Action Plan is evidence-based with research supported by the End Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre, supported by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science and Resources and Hort Innovation Australia, and in conjunction with Central Queensland University, RMIT University, and University of Southern Queensland, with foundational funding provided by the Queensland Government’s Recycling and Jobs Fund.

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