Aussie shoppers want supermarkets to cut food waste

Half of Aussie consumers said they are not happy with supermarkets using so much plastic packaging and disposing of imperfect fresh produce, according to research company SAI Global.

In a survey of 1008 Australian adults, 53 per cent of shoppers want retailers to stop using too much plastic packaging. Of older shoppers, 65 years and over, 63 per cent want less plastic packaging. Surprisingly this figure drops according to the age of consumers, with many young people appreciating the convenience of plastic packaging.

Meanwhile 39 per cent of consumers want businesses to stop rejecting imperfect produce. This is more of a concern for younger shoppers, with 43 per cent of 18-34-year-olds wanting supermarkets to stop this practice.

“We agree that any overuse of plastics is unfortunate and should be reduced where possible. However, unbeknownst to many shoppers supermarkets use plastic for food safety purposes. Plastic is effective in protecting high risk foods, such as meat and dairy, from contamination through the millions of pathogens and microorganisms in the environment,” Andrew Nash, food safety expert at SAI Global, said.

“Plastic, particularly if it’s shrink-wrapped, also helps prevent food from oxidising and spoiling quickly, and it is a good protectant from chemicals in the atmosphere. Dozens of people are likely to handle our foods through the entire supply chain process – including other shoppers. Supermarkets need to reduce the risks of cross-contamination.

Nash said plastic also assists to reduce food wastage by providing an extra layer of protection.

He said that Aussies should know that imperfectly shaped or size produce are safe to eat. Coles is selling ‘ugly’ fruits and vegetables to fight food waste, with trials in Victoria and South Australia.

Woolworths began a similar initiative in 2014 with its Odd Bunch campaign. Under this campaign, ugly produce is sold at reduced prices, and was the first of its kind in Australia.

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