Food awareness reduces food waste by thirty percent

Published on
May 22, 2014

This spring, five hundred members of the women’s organisation Vrouwen van Nu joined the FoodBattle and managed to successfully reduce their food waste by thirty percent. This is not only good for the environment, but also for the wallet. The FoodBattle is an initiative of Wageningen UR, the Netherlands Nutrition Centre and educational organisation Milieu Centraal.

On average, Dutch people throw away 50 kilograms of edible food per person, per year. That amounts to some 150 euros a year. Twelve hundred participants from five hundred households participated in the Vrouwen van Nu Foodbattle. At the start of the battle, they wasted an average of 11 kilograms of food each year. In the last week of the battle, this number was reduced to just 7.5 kilograms per year – a significant reduction in waste compared to the national average. The results show that a substantial reduction in food waste can be achieved even among households with a relatively small waste percentage.

Participants in the FoodBattle wasted less food by following several principles. Three-quarters regularly checked their food stores at home, including both fresh produce and products with a longer shelf-life. More than half planned their meals in advance and forty percent always used a shopping list. Half of the participants went shopping once a week, supplemented by occasional trips to the supermarket for fresh produce, such as meat and vegetables. This helped them avoid unnecessary food waste due to spoilage. Instead of sticking to the expiration date, most people tossed food products when they no longer looked or smelled fresh, with the exception of meat and fish.


The underlying principle behind the FoodBattle is to waste as little food as possible for three weeks. Participants receive easy-to-follow tips and keep track of how much food they throw away on a daily basis. An important incentive is that participants compete against others in the FoodBattle. They can compare their results to those of the group and see how high they score. The FoodBattle is designed as a relay race, whereby different organisations can organise different battles for their employees, members or supporters. Four Dutch organisations (Haags Milieucentrum, Damn Food Waste, Passage and CDA Vrouwen) will soon follow in the footsteps of Vrouwen van Nu.

The FoodBattle is an initiative of Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research, the Netherlands Nutrition Centre and Milieu Centraal. It is sponsored by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Department of Public Works and the European GreenCook Project.