A recent survey by SAI Global of 1008 Australian adults has shown that we are very concerned about the amount of waste from overuse of plastic packaging and discarded produce.
Produce which does not meet the colour, shape and size specifications are most often not put out on display for sale in our supermarkets and fruit and vegetable shops, and some does not even make it off the farms. Figures up to 50 percent are used for the amount of produce which is wasted each year in Australia, which makes it an easy waste to reduce.
Or you would think so!!!!
From the survey, 39 percent want imperfect produce accepted and placed for sale in supermarkets. When this expectation for supermarket acceptance of imperfect produce is broken down into age groups, 43 percent of those between 18 and 34, 39 percent of the 35-54 age group and 35 percent of the over 65s.
Across the states, it is the ACT at 60 percent of those surveyed who want this rejection stopped, whereas the lowest concern was shown by those from NSW at only 38 percent.
Woolworths have been running the “Odd Bunch” program since 2014 and Coles is about to commence a similar program. However the key to these programs and these survey results is this – do people actually buy the odd or imperfect produce when in the supermarkets or are they just speaking and not acting?
Are these results like the polls before the Federal Election this year, where people said one thing and then voted differently on the day? In other words, are people telling the truth when it comes to saying that they want to buy this produce. Only time will tell.
The overuse of plastic packaging rated higher at 53 percent of those surveyed wanting it stopped.
The results when broken down by age groups is almost the reverse of the imperfect produce with those in the 18-24 group at 39 percent and those over 65 at 63 percent. So it would seem that younger Australians are not as worried about excess plastic use as older generations.
The ACT was once again the most concerned at 73 percent and Victorians the least concerned with the overuse of plastic packaging at 48 percent.
Unlike imperfect produce, there are potential food safety issues with plastic packaging, so the key here is to have just enough to ensure food safety without using any excess.
Andrew Nash, food safety expert at SAI Global, says “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. 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. Plastic also assists to reduce food wastage by providing an extra layer of protection. For example, English cucumbers have a particularly thin skin and the tight plastic wrapping helps them to last longer in the fridge by acting as an insulator to protect against cold injury and also slows dehydration and spoilage.”