This project aims to provide new temperature and consumer data to understand how red meat wastage could be reduced in Australian households.

  • Project dates: 2021 (ongoing)

Project Background

Considerable red meat is wasted in Australia. A study by the Australian Food Cold Chain Council suggests 3.5% of total meat production (155,000 tonnes), worth $670 million, is wasted in the cold food chain, before even reaching households.

More meat is wasted once it gets home- the Fight Food Waste CRC Household Food Waste National Benchmark Study found that 26% of Australian households throw away meat each week. 

Uneaten food has wide-ranging environmental impacts, including unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions from food production and landfill, and unnecessary use of farmland and freshwater. Reducing food waste at home, and especially red meat, could save Australian households money and have significant environmental benefits.

This research project will increase our understanding of why households waste red meat by exploring fridge performance and consumer behaviour, and how these domains interact in households.

Research and Scope

This project aims to:

  1. Update knowledge on Australian consumers’ fridge use, storage and disposal of red meat, and how wastage could potentially be reduced
  2. Measure the temperature of fridges in Australian households according to different seasons, and understand how fridge temperature is affected by cooking and storing behaviour
  3. Understand how and why consumers are using their fridges and freezers to store meat, and how this impacts how much meat they waste

To achieve these aims, we have designed a mixed methods study for the pilot phase of this project. 

We will collect real-time data on temperature and electricity use from fridges in Australian households. In addition, we will interview households about how they buy, store, consume, and dispose of meat. The interviews will take place in spring/summer and autumn/winter, so we can track how meat consumption, use, and wastage change across different times of the year.

Outcomes and Impact

In reducing red meat wastage, this project will potentially contribute directly to substantial greenhouse gas savings, with multiple societal and environmental benefits. 

The findings of the first phase of the project will provide valuable information to retailers about how Australian consumers store and consume meat. With this data, retailers can be more certain about shelf life, and therefore use fewer markdowns and discard less product in stores. Consumers will also have greater surety that the product they are consuming is still fresh, reducing wastage and contributing to health and wellbeing. 

A potential second phase of the project would explore how the findings might be used to create education campaigns and easy-to-understand and effective interventions to engage consumers in reducing meat waste.

Funding

This project is funded by the Fight Food Waste Cooperate Research Centre, and Meat and Livestock Australia.

Further Information

For further information about this project, please contact Dr Simon Lockery via simon.lockrey@rmit.edu.au or Associate Professor Cecily Maller via cecily.maller@rmit.edu.au

Key People

Lead researchers

Associate Professor Cecily Maller

Associate Professor Cecily Maller

Convener of People and Environment Program

Dr Bhavna Middha

Dr Bhavna Middha

Research Fellow

Dr Nooshin Torabi

Dr Nooshin Torabi

Researcher

Fight Food Waste: Consumer Fridge Behaviour and Waste Reduction of Red Meat

Dr Simon Lockrey

Senior Lecturer

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Fight Food Waste: Consumer Fridge Behaviour and Waste Reduction of Red Meat

Dr Peter Stasinopoulos

Senior Lecturer

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Fight Food Waste: Consumer Fridge Behaviour and Waste Reduction of Red Meat

Dr Nirajan Shiwakoti

Senior Lecturer

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