University study: Czechs waste 10 percent of the food they buy

On average, every Czech throws away roughly 70 kilograms of food a year. In an effort to get them to stop, economists have now calculated just how much money they are throwing away.

Food banks are close to empty and surveys suggest that many families are having trouble making ends meet, yet the problem of food squandering has not gone away.  Vaclav Pitucha head of one of the country’s food banks says food waste remains a widespread problem.

Illustrative photo: Vít Pohanka,  Czech Radio

“Food is still being wasted at all levels, from food producers to retailers and chains, distributors and restaurants. But it is households that account for the largest share of food waste. Naturally, this has far-reaching impacts. It is an economic problem, an environmental problem and a social problem as well.”

According to Eurostat data, Czechia is currently 17th on the European ladder of food waste. The European average is 70 kilograms of food wasted per person every year. In Czechia it is 69 kg per person, restaurants waste four kilograms per person a year and distributors waste approximately six kilograms of food per person every year.

According to the results of a study undertaken by the Prague University of Economics, Mendel University and the Save Food Association, food waste in Czech households is considerable. The study is based on data from Mendel University, which measured waste in Brno's garbage bins for the course of several months.

Anna Strejcová, from the Save Food Association, says it provides a reliable indication of how much food people throw away.

Anna Strejcová | Photo: Save Food Association

“On average, Czechs throw away 10 percent of the food they put in their shopping cart. This is calculated in kilograms. If you calculate it in finances it is slightly less, because it is mostly cheaper food that gets thrown out. But it is still true that just under 10 percent of the money people pay for food, is wasted.”

The research team concluded that if food waste was eliminated to a minimum, each individual would save more than 3,500 crowns a year. In a household with two children, that is roughly 14, 000 crowns a year.

Anna Strejcová says the financial aspect of the study is meant to make Czechs sit up and take notice –and finally change their habits.

“The majority of people who try not to waste food do so for financial, not for environmental reasons. Only a minimum of people consider the environment when throwing away food. But at a time when inflation is high, the decisive argument in curbing food waste is to tell people just how much they can save.”

Whatever argument does the trick, Czechia will be expected to pull its weight in the European effort to cut back on food waste. Environment Minister Petr Hladík has said his goal is for the country to half its food waste by 2030.

Authors: Daniela Lazarová , Iva Hadj Moussa
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