We are a nation of food wasters – with 75% of us throwing away fresh produce every week – that’s the startling statistic from new research commissioned by food technology firm, It's Fresh!
It may come as some surprise to learn that younger people have some of the worst habits in terms of dumping food, with 92% of people surveyed saying they frequently discard food.
Overall, 83% of respondents said the reason they throw fruit and veg away is due to it not being eaten in time before it goes off.
Wasting fresh produce can also make people feel frustrated and miserable, say It’s Fresh! The research highlights that more than half of respondents (51%) feel guilty when they waste fruit or veg, with women more likely to feel this way than men (54% vs 47%).
The second most common reaction is frustration, with over two fifths (44%) claiming the act of throwing away fruit or veg makes them feel this way.
The study also looked into food waste across different regions of the UK, concluding that some parts of Great Britain are much more wasteful than others.
London came out as the most wasteful region, with 28% of residents throwing away more than 10% of the fruit and veg they buy each week.
The capital is closely followed by the North East, Yorkshire & Humberside and the West Midlands, where almost a quarter (24%) of residents in these regions throw away more than 10% of the fruit and veg they buy each week.
In contrast the research showed that in Wales 59% of people throw away less than 10% of the fruit and veg bought each week, followed by the South West where 56% of residents throw away less than 10% of their weekly fresh produce shop.
Another finding to emerge from the study shows almost half of those questioned are given no provision to dispose of fresh produce, meaning they throw it away with general waste. Two-fifths (42%) of respondents say food waste is disposed of with general rubbish where they live.
In Wales, 94% of respondents say the local council provides a caddy/food waste bin. By contrast, in the North East only 13% have food waste provision, yet this is one of the most wasteful areas when it comes to throwing away fresh produce.
“The research clearly shows people are deeply guilt ridden and frustrated by the food they’re forced to throw away and this waste is mainly down to food not being used in time,” Simon Lee, co-founder of It’s Fresh!
“A lot of this waste is genuinely needless – fresh food can and should last longer and more needs to be done with technology to make this happen.
“Wasting food wastes everything that has gone into getting the produce to the consumer and more needs to be done to help people reduce what they throw away. This would deliver better value for everyone as we could eat all that we buy.”
It’s Fresh!, which commissioned polling experts Populus to carry out the research, is on a mission to reduce food waste in the UK.
The company has developed a sheet-like filter that functions as a sponge to absorb ethylene, which is emitted by fruits and some vegetables as they begin to ripen. This unique filter can extend the shelf life of fresh produce by up to four days.
The green and white filters are increasingly appearing in packs of fruit and some veg, stocked in supermarkets including Morrisons, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.
In the US, Walmart and Albertsons Safeway are using the technology and in France Carrefour has adopted it.