Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Report says Australians wasting food, but could new fridges help?

We’ve all wasted perfectly good food, letting it go to waste and push past its expiry or forgetting to consume it, but is this something an appliance could help with? Samsung thinks the answer is a yes.

A new report released by Samsung this week may shed some light on the home life of the everyday Australian, as the company explores what life is like in the kitchen and laundry for people living on our little side of the world.

It’s the second time Samsung has studied this sort of information about Aussies specifically, with this 2017 report following one in 2015 that made the rounds, looking then at what pain points in the home might be, and using some of that research to inspire new products.

In fact back then, the research indicated Australians were tired of doing chores likes the laundry, and were often frustrated when they missed a few garments of clothing and were forced to do another cycle because they couldn’t add anything half way, a bit of research which purportedly led Samsung to the creation of its “Add Wash” door, a little door-in-a-door concept that allowed you to pause the wash cycle, add a few things without fear of water flooding out, and continue on the merry way.

That’s something the world has because of Australians, and while it’s not likely to change the world like the CSIRO’s invention of modern WiFi or even its upcoming walking-based security, it’s still a development based on the way Australians use technology at home.

What will 2017 bring?

Samsung’s addition from Australian research is the Add Wash door. Great when you’ve forgotten to add socks.

According to some of Samsung’s research, our reluctance to replace appliances may well be leading to more food wastage, as folks at home seem keen to cook more, and yet also appear to be throwing food out even more, with the research showing food wastage doubled from nearly $1280 to $2200 in large households wasting almost $50 weekly.

This comes despite the fact that many of us are keen to cook at home, something that may connect with our love for the cooking show, or possibly that eating out is just so expensive, but Samsung’s notes on Aussies at home suggests appliances could be getting in the way of our intentions.

“Australians@HOME 2.0 revealed that generally Australians think they are wasting significant amounts of food each week,” said Caroline Morgan, Head of Insights and Innovation for Samsung Electronics Australia.

“We have the best of intentions to prepare and eat fresh food – so much so that we are shopping several times a week, but poor planning, poor storage and inefficient appliances are contributing to this food wastage,” she said.

Samsung’s Family Hub fridge can snap pictures of food inside, and send them to your phone, thereby showing you what you have. Opening the door does the same thing, sure, but while you’re not there, the camera can do the work.

Different from how the last report inspired a new feature in washing machines, Samsung has this time pointed new features in fridges announced earlier in the year as a way of solving these problems, with 72 percent of those surveyed saying they’d like a fridge that tells them when the food is close to expiration while 67 percent would like one that would tell them when the food is running out.

Samsung says that its screen and camera equipped Family Hub fridge does these things, but they do so with a catch: while the Family Hub fridge will show you what is in the fridge — something you can check with an app while you’re shopping — tracking expiration dates is something you’ll have to tell the fridge manually, typing in when you first put the ingredient in the fridge and controlling things that way.

We’ll go out on a limb and say as neat a feature that is, people aren’t likely to keep up with it, because the pain point of expiring food is likely just as frustrating as the pain point of having to weekly type in when you’ve placed in a fridge, two issues which sounds as annoying as each other.

In fact, until a fridge can actively track food and expiration dates automatically, this is one problem that isn’t going away easily, but the camera is at least helpful, something we wish more fridges had inside of them.

Not all fridges have cameras or screens, and so you’ll have to make do with unique features like massive freezer drawers and unique temperature settings for specific types of food. There are some good compromises there, we’re sure.

With refrigerators, newer appliances can make all the difference.

Over the holiday period, this journalist’s old fridge died, and so we replaced it with something else (and not a Samsung no less, but a Haier). A few weeks later, his wife remarked just how much food we were not throwing out due to the better technologies inside the newer fridge, as the lighting and cooling did a better job on preserving the food.

That’s the problem with big appliances: you think they’re doing the same old job for years, but the reality is the longer you have it, the worse it gets. After the ten year mark, fridges don’t quite cut it, and since many of us hold onto fridges for even longer, you have to wonder what they’re doing for our food usage levels.

Over in the laundry, things are a little different, and while we still don’t like to do the laundry — shock horror, who does? — the majority of Aussies in the report have found they prefer washing the clothes (84%) with 17 percent even enjoying it. No one seems to like cleaning the bathroom, though, something Samsung hasn’t yet created a solution for (outside of a robot, we imagine this to be a self-cleaning bathroom, something that we’re not quite up to yet).

“It’s immensely important for Samsung to understand how our technology can support the evolving needs of the home, as well as select, calibrate and design product features for Australia,” said Jeremy Senior, Samsung’s Director for Home Appliances in Australia.

“The 2017 research has given us further insight into how we as a nation are living and has shown how home appliances and technology can help play a role in supporting Australian lives,” he said.

One crazy feature worth throwing in at the end: Samsung’s screen-equipped Family Hub can grab the TV feed from a Samsung TV. It’s like you never left the couch. Crazy.
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