Food waste increased across the country during the Covid-19 lockdowns as Irish shoppers threw away almost €365 worth of food each.

A new study conducted by Coyne Research on behalf of Aldi has found that a third of Irish adults (36%) bought more food during the lockdowns, with one in three of these adults stating they wasted or threw out more food during lockdown restrictions compared to ‘normal’ pre-pandemic times.

Despite food wastage increasing nationwide, three out of 10 adults reported knowing someone who struggled to buy food, had to make sacrifices to pay for food, or had to avail of a food bank during the lockdowns.

Aldi has today (Monday, September 20) launched its 2021 Food for Good campaign, whereby shoppers can buy and leave food donations in their local Aldi store, which will be collected and distributed to local charities by FoodCloud.

Social enterprise FoodCloud works with retail and food businesses across the supply chain to help them redistribute their surplus food to its network of charities and community groups across Ireland and internationally.

Aldi’s study “reflects FoodCloud’s experience”, as it witnessed a “huge surge in demand for its surplus redistribution services since the onset of the pandemic”.

FoodCloud saw demand “dramatically” increase, almost doubling, while some charities had to reduce or limit services.

Between March 2020 and August 2021, charities sought 53% more food donations compared to the previous 18 months, with 4,822t of food, equating to 11.5 million meals, distributed through retail partners and FoodCloud hubs during this time.

Food waste and food insecurity

Commenting, Aoibheann O’Brien, FoodCloud co-founder and partnerships director added:

“This study has highlighted that food waste was an issue in homes across the country in 2020.

“Wasting good food has a negative impact on both the climate and our pockets. We should look to avoid all food wastage where possible when we think that three in 10 within our communities are struggling to access food.

“It is great to see campaigns supporting both the message of food waste reduction and highlighting that there are those facing food insecurity, as it is a problem that has been hidden with the pandemic and one that sadly has the potential to increase with the cessation of government employment payments.”

Starting on Monday, October 4, until Sunday, October 10, shoppers can donate an extra non-perishable food item to one of the specially-designed Food for Good drop-off points that will be appearing across Aldi’s 148 stores nationwide.