New Zealanders are showing a change in their food purchasing habits, with a significant increase in the buying of imperfect fruits and vegetables. This revelation came from a recent survey conducted by Rabobank and Kiwi Harvest.
The survey revealed that despite food prices increasing by eight percent in the past year, household spending on food has risen by nine percent. Head of Sustainable Business Development at Rabobank Blake Holgate told REX host Dominic George that more consumers are now choosing to buy imperfect fruits and vegetables at cheaper prices.
"For the first time since we've been doing the survey, more consumers will choose the ugly fruit at a lower price than the perfect fruit at a significantly greater price," he said.
It seems that Kiwis are beginning to recognize the fact that the aesthetics of their produce do not necessarily equate to nutritional value.
"The reality is the nutritional value in that ugly fruit or vegetables is just the same as in aesthetically good-looking fruit or vegetables."
This new trend could have implications for the farming sector, as well as the fight against food waste. The cost of food waste in New Zealand is estimated to be around $3 billion per year. If imperfect fruits and vegetables, which would otherwise be discarded, are being purchased and consumed, this could significantly contribute to reducing food waste.
While these changing food habits are promising for sustainability, the survey also highlighted a surprising decrease in the number of New Zealanders identifying as vegan.
Holgate revealed that the survey "has detected attitudinal changes, such as a sizable fall in the number of New Zealanders identifying as vegan."
This could potentially stir up new discussions on sustainability and its future challenges. Holgate ended the conversation on a hopeful note, stressing that New Zealand produces high-quality food in an environmentally friendly way relative to many of its competitors.
"We've got to understand what does that mean for us and how do we capitalise on it?"
As New Zealanders continue to evolve their food habits, it's clear that conversations around sustainability, food waste, and farming are becoming increasingly important. So, the next time you're at the supermarket, perhaps consider reaching for that imperfect apple or slightly misshapen carrot.
Not only could you be saving money, but you might also be contributing to a more sustainable food system.
Listen to the full chat between Blake Holgate and Dominic George above.