POLITICS

With So Much Food Being Wasted, What Do You Have Against Onions?

We dump $20 billion worth of food every year.

12/04/2017 7:09 AM AEST | Updated 12/04/2017 7:17 AM AEST
Screenshot
Tony Abbott eats a "normal sized" raw onion during a visit to Tasmania in 2015.

CANBERRA -- To former Prime Minister Tony Abbott they just might be bite-sized snacks, but about 20 tonnes of fresh, delicious, raw onions have just had to have be saved from being dumped.

Their only crime? They are too small for the likes of us, the consumers. Have we all forgotten about cocktail onions?

In a deal between an onion producer in the New South Wales Riverina and Australia's largest food relief organisation, Foodbank, those 20 tonnes of tiny baby onions will be going to the needy free of charge over the next three to four weeks, rather than wastefully being sown back into the ground or sent to landfill.

Alex Ellinghausen/Fairfax
Australian consumers currently waste 20 per cent of food purchased.

"As we know consumers can be a little fussy when it comes to fresh produce," Foodbank Australia's CEO Brianna Casey. "Unfortunately, in this case these onions would have been rejected."

"We were able to connect up with the grower and in three to four weeks we should see 20 tonnes of these not quite big enough onions being delivered to Foodbank. "

"From there, we will be distributing those to charities who can feed vulnerable Australians."

Fairfax Media
Josh Frydenberg: "Food aid organisations are turning away more than 600,000 people seeking food relief every month."

But this is not every food waste story.

Each year, $20 billion a year worth of food is wasted in Australia and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg cites figures which show Australian consumers currently waste 20 percent of food purchased or "essentially throw away one in five shopping baskets of food".

Frydenberg is attending a major roundtable in Melbourne on Wednesday, co-hosted by the Pratt Foundation, in a bid to do something about it, along with the National Farmers Federation, Foodbank and other industry and community leaders.

The Turnbull Government has a policy to reduce Australia's food waste by 50 percent by 2030 as part of an ambitious global goal to reduce per capita food waste and Frydenberg is working on developing a National Food Waste Strategy.

Foodbank wants action.

"While we have this enormous food waste problem, we also have a food insecurity problem," Casey said.

"We know that at some point in the past 12 months, one in six Australians were food insecure. That means they did not have the means to put a meal on their table.

"We really need to see strong policies and programs that will incentivise the reduction of food waste in Australia."

A National Food Waste summit is due to be held in November 2017.

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