How much food do we actually waste?


The Kantar New Zealand Food Waste Survey, 2023, a self-reported study conducted by Rabobank and Kiwi Harvest showed every year over 100,000 tonnes of perfectly good food is wasted.


The estimated value of food waste per New Zealand household is worth about $1510 per year. Nationally this equates to $3.2 billion of food wasted food. (Source: Rabobank & KiwiHarvest Food Waste Research).


We also conducted research in 2018, showing that the amount of food waste being thrown out in New Zealand by households is equivalent to 3 shopping trolleys per person per year. You can read how we researched this here. 


That amount of food wasted every year could feed the population of Dunedin or Northland for nearly three years!


For other parts of the food supply chain such as supermarkets, cafes, manufacturers we have some information on what they waste, but no one knows the total amount of food wasted across the whole supply chain. You can find out what we do know here. 


Why do we waste so much food?

People we surveyed believed that the main reasons we waste food are because we cook too much food, we don’t eat our leftovers and that food in the fridge and the freezer goes off.


But we also waste a lot of food because we buy too much of it and don’t store it correctly.


We have lots of tips to help you know the best way to store your food and delicious ways to cook it so you will never need to throw it out again.


What types of food are we wasting?

These are the top 10 foods Kiwis throw out every year:

Top 10 avoidable food types Tonnes National cost
1.     Bread 15,174 $62,589,440
2.     Leftovers 12,901 $140,374,320
3.    Oranges and mandarins 6,302 $20,516,361
4.     Apples 5,117 $14,818,152
5.    Bananas 4,844 $12,933,883
6.   Potatoes 4,767 $8,323,120
7.    Poultry 4,083 $50,279,800
8.   Rice 4,076 $2,675,883
9.   Lettuce 3,754 $13,225,023
10.  Beef 3,208 $45,825,926

Why do we waste so much bread?


We throw away 29 million loaves of bread a year! And that’s just the stuff that goes into the rubbish bin – not bread which is feed to birds or ducks.

Many people find their bread goes mouldy or stale because of our humid climate. The best place to store your bread is in the fridge or the freezer to stop it growing mould.

We also throw out a lot of crusts and the ends of the loaves because we don’t like to eat them. It is such a waste to throw away this perfectly good bread as there are many things we can do with it.

You may think you are doing a good thing by leaving your bread out for the birds or feeding ducks, but it’s actually not that good for them. 

Why do we waste so many vegetables?

Nearly one-third of the food we waste is vegetables. Vegetables often get chucked out because we don’t eat them while they are at their prime, and let’s face it, not many people find limp celery very appetising!

We also throw away a lot of vegetable scraps such as potato peelings, pumpkin skins and broccoli stalks. These can all be eaten or composted rather than going in your rubbish bin.

Vegetable peelings

Do we throw away junk food?

There were a few surprises in things that Kiwis threw out.

We know Kiwis like fish and chips, but it turns out our scoop of chips is too big with 2,755 tonnes of takeaway chips being thrown out each year.

Cake was another thing found in rubbish bins that we were surprised to see. Kiwis throw away 1,787 tonnes of cakes every year!

What didn’t come as a surprise was that the traditional lunchbox staple, sandwiches, were commonly thrown away. Encouraging your children to eat their sandwiches for afternoon tea is an easy way to prevent 1,430 tonnes of sandwiches going to landfill every year.


Find out how you can reduce your waste