Survey: Singapore households throw away S$200m of food and beverage a year

By Lester Wan

- Last updated on GMT

Electrolux Singapore's survey found Singapore households trash S$200 million worth of food & beverage annually.
Electrolux Singapore's survey found Singapore households trash S$200 million worth of food & beverage annually.

Related tags Food waste Food Shelf life

Singapore households trash about S$200 million worth of food and beverage each year, the equivalent of S$170 per home a year.

According to the National Environment Agency, 791 million kg of food waste was generated in Singapore in 2016. This marked a 41.5% increase over the past decade.

The findings, published The Electrolux Home Food Waste Survey, also reveals that 85% of Singapore households do not consume their food before the indicated date on food packaging, contributing to mounting food waste in the city state. 

Douglas Chua, general manager of Electrolux Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, said: “Tackling food waste is the cornerstone of our yearly initiative. This year, our focus is on food in storage, such as pantries and refrigerators. Often, we buy food, store them, but end up forgetting to consume them before their indicated dates on the packaging. This results in their eventual disposal. We want to encourage behavioural change that will allow for greater food sustainability and reduced waste.”

The theme for this year is #SeasonYourEx, a short form for Season Your Expiring Food. This initiative aims to educate consumers that expiring or leftover food is not as tasty as fresh food but fruit, vegetables, eggs and packed food such as canned meat and fruit, can still taste good with the use of creative cooking tips and recipes.

Highlights from the survey, which polled 1,000 households:

• 20% would never consume food if it is past the indicated date.

• Seven out of 10 (72%) could attribute the meanings of “Best Before”​, “Sell By”​ and “Expires On”​, demonstrating knowledge that food past its indicated date does not necessarily mean it is unfit for consumption.

• The majority of the households (84%) were shocked, guilty, sad and angry when confronted with the food waste that Singapore generates.

• One in 10 (10%) felt indifferent about it.

• Nearly half of the households (48%) would continue to eat the food item if the taste or texture remained similar to the original.

• About six in 10 (58%) said they would do so if the items were frozen, vacuum sealed and stored well, and showed no signs of turning bad.

Fiona Chia, director of nutrition consultancy Health Can Be Fun, said: “Some foods that are nearing or have exceeded the indicated date may still be eaten. An ‘Expires On’ date applies if there is a health risk in eating the item after that date.

“A ‘Best Before’ date is used as a guide to indicate how long a product can retain its peak quality and freshness. A ‘Sell By’ date acts as a reference for retailers, to let them know how long an item can be put on display for sale,”​ she added.

The public is also encouraged to participate in the social media initiative and to contribute to greater food waste awareness by posting a photo of an expired or soon-to-be expired food or leftover item at home on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and sharing what they can do with it using the hastags #SeasonYourEx and #HappyPlateSG.

For every five hashtags and/or social media shares, Electrolux will fund the costs of running The Food Bank Singapore’s van for a day. The van collects donated food items from collection points across Singapore, and distributes them to beneficiaries.

Nichol Ng, co-founder of non-profit The Food Bank Singapore, said, “Every month, we collect on average 60,000 kg of food and distribute these surpluses to organisations and people in need of food. We hope more people can be on board this meaningful project so that our van can constantly hit the roads and deliver those foods promptly.”

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