For the planet, for our people and for your pocket - fight food waste this festive season

December 22, 2021

The holiday season is upon us, which means it’s time to indulge in big family meals and treats. Food is usually front and centre during all the festivities and get-togethers with loved ones. Normally, one can easily waste up to 40% of the food that you buy, but during the festive season, our food wastage increases by an additional 25%. We end up wasting more food than what we buy.

With this in mind, WWF South Africa and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is calling on South Africans to be waste-wise this holiday season and think before we discard, use leftovers inspirationally and store food safely with an exciting campaign called “SAME TASTE. NO WASTE”.

“The easiest way to start reducing your food waste is to audit your food. When you start planning your meals intentionally and shop consciously, you will already notice that you buy less and so waste less,” says Pavitray Pillay, Behaviour Change Lead within the Business Development Unit at WWF South Africa.

“As individuals we can play a big part in limiting the triple negative impact of food waste. By decreasing the food wasted in our homes, we can contribute positively to responsible consumption and production, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and enhancing food security. This festive season (and beyond), celebrate a reduction in food waste and give the gift of contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals” shares Simone Smit, Head of Exploration at UNDP.

South Africa already in a food crisis

It is estimated that food waste costs South Africa over R75 million per annum due to approximately 12,6 million tons of food waste being generated every year. With an estimated 80% of edible food thrown away, this situation is morally and ethically unsustainable, especially in our country where 2,5 million people experience hunger every day and in a country that has the highest child stunting statistic globally.

It is suggested that for every ton of edible surplus food, an estimated 4 000 nutritious meals could be made for those in need. In the period of September to December 2020, 9,34 million people in South Africa (16% of the total population) faced high levels of acute food insecurity. Currently, the key drivers for food insecurity are COVID-19, economic decline, unemployment, rising food prices and drought.

Food waste’s effect on the environment is devastating

When food is wasted, the embedded nutrition, energy, water and capital, as well as other resources are also wasted. 

Placing the spotlight on the prevention of food waste

To create awareness of the food waste problem that we face in South Africa and to prove that we can all play a part in changing our behaviour and reducing our food waste footprint, WWF South Africa and UNDP invited local chefs Jocelyn Meyer Adams, Vusi Ndlovu and Jason Whitehead to lend a hand.

Using their expertise, the talented chefs were all challenged to create some mouth-watering dishes from food that was going to be discarded. A feast was produced, and the chefs delivered delectable dishes with fitting names such as ‘Almost tossed salad’, ‘Pasta the sell by date’, ‘Throw away canapés’, to name a few.

“All of these signature dishes demonstrated that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the food that is all too often rejected. We are encouraging everyone to act as ‘food saving champions’ this holiday season and be smart when shopping for and preparing meals. Educate yourself about food; know where it comes from and the incredible journey it takes and value food more,” concludes Pillay.

Food practices that are good for you and the planet

Keep an eye on WWF South Africa’s social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and website this festive season for important facts, fun and delicious recipes and tips on how to reduce your food waste footprint.


Notes for Editors:

Here are some tips to prevent food waste at home this holiday season:

  1. Plan your meals and audit your fridge and grocery cupboards before you go to the shops as this will help you to shop smarter.
  2. Don’t over-cater - prepare the right quantity of food, reduce choices and don’t serve more than you need.
  3. Store leftovers in the freezer to enjoy at a later stage and search “holiday leftover recipes” online for new ideas. The key is to be creative and prevent waste from even occurring.
  4. Freeze food such as bread, sliced fruit, or meat that you know you won’t be able to eat in time.
  5. Store fresh produce where it is easy to see, on eye-level shelves in the fridge or on countertops where it is likely to be seen and eaten. Also, store food in ways that preserve their freshness for as long as possible.
  6. Cut your time in the kitchen by preparing and freezing meals ahead of time which will give you more time with family and friends.
  7. Reuse any packaging that can be used for an alternative purpose, and recycle and compost – for example, reuse brown paper bags to store herbs in your fridge as it will increase the lifespan of your produce.
  8. The ‘sell-by’ date refers to information for the retailer, not for you as the customer. Food past its sell-by date or use-by date is generally still good to eat for a few days. Use your senses to see if food is still good to eat.
  9. You can also give leftovers or extra unopened food items that you will not use to a charity in need. If you have a catering company or restaurant, consider donating unprocessed food to feeding schemes, soup kitchens and shelters.