Reducing food waste: tips for businesses
Food waste is a global problem. Find out how to safely reduce food waste in your food business.
Food waste reduction is good for business, the environment, and people
Food waste is a major issue globally and in New Zealand. During 2020 in New Zealand, household and commercial businesses sent more than 300,000 tonnes of food to the tip (landfill).
The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) is leading the government's work on reducing food waste.
How you can help
This web page has information about how your food business can help. You may be able to:
- donate surplus food
- offer your customers the option of taking home their leftovers
- supply food waste for feeding to pigs
However, also be aware there are rules to follow to do it safely.
The Food Act 2014 has a clause that protects businesses if they donate food. It's known as the "Good Samaritan" clause. It means you're not liable if your donated food makes people sick, as long as the food:
- is safe and suitable when you donate it
- is given with any information the receiver needs to keep it safe and suitable
- has its original labelling.
Check the label's date mark before donating food
Food with a shelf life of less than 2 years must have a date mark. This will be shown on the label as:
- Use by – if the food could make people sick if consumed after a certain date.
- Best before – if the food declines in quality but is still safe to be consumed.
- Baked (Bkd) on or similar – if the product is bread with a shelf life of less than 7 days.
Food that has passed its "use by" date must not be donated.
Food marked with a "best before" date can be donated after the date has passed, if it's still fit to eat.
Find out more
Donations of food from commercial sources [PDF, 324 KB]
In 2018, cafés and restaurants threw away nearly 25,000 tonnes of food.
New Zealand restaurants are responsible for making sure their food is safe to eat at the time they serve or sell it.
It's up to each business to decide if they allow customers to take home their uneaten food. Allowing customers to take home uneaten food will help you reduce food waste.
Food waste can be supplied for feeding to pigs. But you must be aware of the rules for supplying food waste.
Feeding other types of animals
There are other rules to follow if your business:
- generates food waste that is likely to be fed to farm animals
- turns food waste into animal feed.
For example, the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997 requires companies making food for animals to ensure that food is not spoiled or contaminated or will otherwise make animals sick if fed to them.
Other relevant rules are in the:
- Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (Exemptions and Prohibited Substances) Regulations 2011
- Animal Products Act 1999
- Animal Welfare Act 1999
- Biosecurity (Meat and Food Waste for Pigs) Regulations 2005
- Biosecurity Act 1993
- Food Act 2014
Find out more
Fact sheet: Making food for animals [PDF, 267 KB]
Groups that can help reduce food waste
Government-funded organisations provide food rescue and food donation services across New Zealand.
New Zealand Food Network collects quality surplus and donated bulk food.
Aotearoa Food Rescue Alliance supports local food rescue efforts.
Kore Hiakai – Zero Hunger Collective supports community food organisations nationally. It's also working to help solve the root causes of poverty-related hunger.
Advice for households
Who to contact
If you have questions about reducing food waste, email email@example.com