Consumer fridge behaviour and waste reduction of red meat | Fight Food Waste CRC
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consumer fridge behaviour and waste reduction of red meat 

The challenge

The National Food Waste Baseline reports 123,000 tonnes of beef, lamb, pork and chicken meat are wasted each year, whilst an AFCCC study suggests 3.5% of total meat production (155,000 tonnes) worth $670 million is wasted in the cold food chain. The Fight Food Waste CRC (FFW CRC) Household Food Waste National Benchmark Study also states that 26% of households throw away meat each week. In addition, 32% of consumers don’t know if food was safe to be consumed based on seeing, smelling or tasting it, and 11% believe it was stored too long. There is a need to reduce this wastage and improve consumer practices by better understanding fridge performance and consumer behaviour and how these domains interact in households.

Our plan

In reducing meat wastage, this project will potentially contribute directly to substantial greenhouse gas savings, with multiple societal and environmental benefits. In this first phase of the project, the retailers will benefit from the findings through the creation of greater certainty about shelf life, thereby needing to use fewer markdowns on shelf/ product discarded in store. Consumers will also have greater surety that the product they are consuming is still fresh, reducing wastage and contributing to health and wellbeing.

Phase 1 of the project will focus on red meat and aims to monitor 300 – 400 fridges across Australia, which may result in valid usage data for 200-300 household fridges (including temperature changes over the course of a week, usage practices such as portioning, cooking needs). The monitoring of fridges will be measured by IOT devices in different sections of the fridge. Interviews accompanying the survey will include 15-30 households (limited to Melbourne due to Covid concerns) to generate qualitative data to complement and interpret the fridge monitoring data.

New baseline temperature data generated will be applicable to all commodities which require chilled storage (including milk, salad, and fruits). The data can be used for setting new standards for food storage (including extending or shortening best before dates) and provide insights for industry on consumers. These insights will assist in addressing the issues of waste with a holistic fridge/freezer, packaging, and consumer information/ education focussed project for meat.

Phase 2 of the project aims to develop easy to understand and effective interventions/ alternatives to engage consumers to enable them to reduce meat waste with chilled storage.