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Food Waste Innovation research

Food Waste Innovation has three research sub-themes which focus on metrics and management, technical innovations, and producer and consumer behaviour related to food waste.

Food Waste Innovation Research Theme

Our goal is to harness the best scientific expertise to provide effective solutions to food waste problems.

The establishment of Food Waste Innovation in 2020 as a formalised interdisciplinary Research Theme has put us on an even stronger trajectory to advance the research agenda.

Since 2013, our researchers have been providing the most authoritative voice on research relating to waste in NZ:

  • Advising government and international committees on waste reduction targets, measurements and policies
  • Communicating to the New Zealand public about reduction initiatives
  • Providing consultancy services on waste-related issues to councils, businesses and industry organisations

Consultancy and collaboration

We welcome commercial research proposals and partnerships.

We can help your organisation to tackle a wide range of food waste challenges:

  • Trend-spotting
  • Capitalising on food waste opportunities through product and packaging development
  • Conducting food waste audits and measuring the impact of your organisation’s food waste
  • Strategic advising on food waste issues including the adoption of reduction technologies, practices and policies
  • Creating evidence-based solutions to change peoples’ behaviours (i.e. identify the barriers to reducing waste, design a behavior change intervention or strategy to overcome the barriers, pilot the interventions / strategies before broad implementation)
  • Deep-dives and report writing
  • Keynote talks, workshops and facilitation

We’d love to discuss your organisation’s food waste research needs so please contact us:
Email food.waste@otago.ac.nz

About Food Waste Innovation

Food Waste Innovation people

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Food waste: New Zealand's place in the global picture

Food waste is a pressing issue with significant environmental, economic, and social implications.

It is a major issue in New Zealand though the total volume of food lost and wasted is not yet fully understood. As an export-orientated agricultural nation that relies on its ‘clean green’ reputation, New Zealand has every reason to be at the forefront of reducing food waste.

Culturally, New Zealand is well positioned to be accelerating efforts on food waste reduction with Te Ao Māori recognising a no-waste system where everything can be returned to Papatūānuku (mother earth).

Reducing food waste is a government priority with a commitment to cutting all waste classes. The government also supports a ‘circular economy’ approach to waste and resource efficiency issues. There is strong interest in developing a national food waste strategy and investing in research that will create transformative change.

Global food waste

The United Nations estimates that a third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. That is around 1.3 billion tonnes each year and is occurring when over 800 million people suffer from chronic hunger and malnutrition. Wasted food also generates about 8% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. Food waste reduction is now a high priority on global, national, and business agendas.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in 2015, they include Target 12.3. It calls for halving per capita global food waste by 2030, and would also contribute to reducing hunger and climate change impacts. It has been touted as ambitious yet achievable. To help convert Target 12.3 into reality, more research is needed.

Annual Seed Research Grants

A pool of $10,000 of seed research funding is available annually for research relating to food waste. Applications for 2020 have now closed, check this website at a later date for information about 2021 round.

Seed Research Grants application form (Word)

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