Countdown sponsors NZ’s first-ever Zero Food Waste Challenge

Countdown sponsors NZ’s first-ever Zero Food Waste Challenge

Countdown is getting behind efforts to tackle one of the planet’s most pressing social and environmental issues and is encouraging Kiwis and Kiwi businesses to do the same as part of the inaugural Zero Food Waste Challenge. 

The week-long challenge, which kicks off on 19 September, aims to put the growing issue of food waste on the map with food rescue charities across Aotearoa coming together to give Kiwis the tools and support they need to address the problem.  

Veronica Shale, founder of the Zero Food Waste Challenge, says that Kiwi households contribute the largest proportion of food waste in New Zealand: “86% of Kiwis believe that wasting food is wrong, but with so much information around it’s hard to know where to start. The Challenge is all about supporting Kiwis to do what they can to reduce their food waste and partnering with Countdown has given us the boost we need to make it happen.

“Our aim is to spark conversations and give people the tools and tips they need to do their part with a smile. New Zealand doesn’t need a few people doing everything perfectly, we need everyone to do what they can – a million people making a small change would make a fantastic difference for our planet,” says Shale.

Countdown’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Safety & Sustainability, Kiri Hannifin, says that as a long-time supporter of more than 25 food rescue charities around the country the supermarket jumped at the chance to sponsor the challenge.

“As one of New Zealand’s biggest food businesses, sending zero food waste to landfill is one of our most critical sustainability goals – not only for the good of the planet but also, with our food rescue partners, to directly help Kiwis who might otherwise go hungry.”

“We want to support our customers to make the most of their kai once they get it home and taking part in the Zero Waste Food Challenge will support them every step of the way with tips for storage, shopping advice and tasty recipes to use up odds and ends,” says Hannifin.

“They can also contribute directly by donating at the checkout during the week of the challenge as each Countdown store will be fundraising for its local food rescue partner.”

Countdown’s Food Rescue Programme donates $5.2 million worth of food to food banks and food rescues every year, with an additional $1.7 million heading to farmers as food scraps for their animals. Financial support for food rescue partners is also available through a contestable Food Rescue Partners fund that has awarded more than $2.5million in cash since its inception in 2016.

“Right across our business, our team are focused on meeting our zero food waste to landfill goal. Our store teams are not only working to put good food aside for donation each day, but also undertaking other food rescue initiatives like turning yesterday’s baguettes into garlic bread, overripe bananas into banana bread and unsold cooked chickens into sandwich fillings.”

“We’re looking forward to the Zero Food Waste Challenge and we’d love to see our customers and other food businesses jump on-board as well – food waste is something we all have to solve together,” says Hannifin.

Food wastage in New Zealand:

•        The average Kiwi household wastes $1520 of food every year, nationally that adds up to $3.1 billion worth of food per year that we buy and throw away uneaten

•        Kiwis are wasting more food than a year ago, the estimated percentage of household food waste has risen to 13.4% from 8.6% in 2021

•        53% of New Zealanders admitted to throwing away unopened food, up from 42% in 2021

•        Despite being the generation most concerned with climate change, Gen Z wastes the most food with 28.2% of their weekly food spend going to landfill (up from 16% in 2021)

•        Other generations also estimated they wasted more food in 2022 than the previous year, Gen X wasted 16.2% (up from 12%), Gen Y was 10.1% (up from 6%) and Baby Boomers were up to 8.3% (from 5%). *

*Food waste data is from the Rabobank/KiwiHarvest New Zealand Food Waste survey which was administered by independent research agency KANTAR and involved interviews with 1502 New Zealanders between April 4 and April 18, 2022

New Zealand’s first Zero Food Waste Challenge runs from 19 – 25 September and interested Kiwis can register to take part at, make a financial contribution to their local food rescue by rounding up their purchase at the Countdown checkout and follow Countdown’s lead in making real lasting changes.

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