Inflation and food waste: How do the two go together?

Lucy Anderson
Source: 1News

Out shopping recently, you may have been unpleasantly surprised when it's come to the final tally.

New Zealand is currently seeing record-high prices, with inflation hitting 6.9%. Grocery prices have risen even further in the past month, according to Statistics NZ's latest figures.

This is on top of the 6.4% jump we saw from April 2021 to April 2022.

READ MORE: Price of burgers, coffee increase as food prices rise again

Some supermarkets are putting price freezes on select staples like bread, milk and cheese. But it remains to be seen how much of a difference this will make to overall costs.

But as Kiwis grapple with a cost of living crisis, some say they're thinking more carefully about the amount of food they're wasting.

According to Love Food Hate Waste, New Zealand households throw away 157,000 tonnes of food each year - enough to feed the city of Dunedin for three years.

READ MORE: Grocery price reductions 'not just marketing' - Foodstuffs

One person told 1News they usually waste around a third of of the food they buy but amid higher prices, they're more conscious.

Food waste.

Another said, "I cook at home, I try to buy more frequently rather than buying in bulk like fruits and vegetables."

Another person added, "It actually breaks my heart when you know, I waste food at home, so I try really hard not to."

Experts suggest a host of ways to cut down on waste such as cooking seasonally and grocery shopping more frequently.

"Savings are knowing how to cook food from all round the planet and then tapping into whatever’s available at the cheapest price when you see it," food education advocate Ganesh Raj told 1News.

He said we should grocery shop for three days rather than seven.

"I don’t know anyone who knows what they’re going to cook for all seven days."

NZ Food Champions' Kaitlin Dawson says everyone have a role to play in reducing waste.

"I think we've become a little bit lazy, a little bit complacent but mostly we’re just not connected enough to our local food system, the growers and where our food is coming from."

She told 1News it's easy not to think about food waste because don't see where our food goes after we've thrown it away.

"I think it's so easy to put it out sight out of mind and put it in the bin. The mountains of food waste I think are going quite unseen."

Dawson thinks food waste will naturally reduce as a result of high prices.

"People will pay closer attention to what they’re putting in the bin. Because we need to make sure we’re not throwing away money, we're not throwing away bags of produce that we bought at the supermarket."

As part of the Governments 2022 Budget, it announced $2.9b towards a climate change boost. Within that, $103m was allocated to cutting emissions from waste as it wants to reduce and divert organic waste from landfill.

Most New Zealanders should have access to a food waste collection service by 2030. Alongside this, the Government will invest in waste infrastructure, such as composting.

READ MORE: Govt confirms supermarket duopoly crackdown plans

But Dawson told 1News while the Government should lead the way, everyday Kiwis and businesses don’t have to wait for action.

"It can happen simultaneously. We can reduce food in our homes and we can start to bring food waste into the light."

On Monday the Government also announced its response to the Commerce Commission’s study into the supermarket duopoly of Foodstuffs and Countdown.

Supermarkets will now have to allow rival retailers access to groceries at reasonable conditions and be monitored annually to check there’s enough competition.

A bill will be introduced to Parliament later this year with the changes.