Limiting food waste still a work in progress for consumers, retailers in the UK

Produce Business report

Self-reported food waste in the UK fell by a more than a percentage point in the six months ending June 2023, but was still high compared to periods during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bi-annual WRAP Food Trends and KPI survey done by the Waste and Resources Action Programme shows that a little more than 20% of UK families are reporting food waste. Two thirds say they are making strides to cut back on the food they throw away.

However, one caveat persists: a quarter of those households say they don’t want to use up all the food they purchase or have on hand. Wealthier families tend to be significant culprits, seemingly unmotivated to help allay this issue.

“Shockingly, this year, each UK adult will chuck away an amount of food equivalent to their own body weight as food waste,” Estelle Herszenhorn, Head of Food System Transformation at WRAP, wrote in a recent blog post. “Of the total 10.7 million tonnes of food wasted in the UK each year, 6.4 million tonnes are thrown away in our homes … Household food waste also generates 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. This is a huge blow for both UK pockets and the planet.”

They’re not alone. Supermarket chains have done exceptionally well to repurpose food that would be thrown away, however, they could be doing more.

“WRAP recommendations to retailers are to sell a range of fresh uncut produce loose wherever possible and to remove Best Before dates from these items, however they are sold,” Herszenhorn wrote. “We also advise retailers to promote the benefits of keeping all fruit and veg (except bananas, whole onions and whole pineapple) in the fridge, at home to keep it fresher for longer.”

She noted the significance of trials of loose produce being done by retailers such as Waitrose to both cut down on packaging and reduce waste.

“This is a move we love to see: not only does selling more fruit and veg loose eliminate some problematic single use plastic, it also helps customers buy closer to their needs,” she wrote. “Win-win for everyone, except the bin.”



The Latest from PBUK

Subscribe to PBUK!

Get regular produce industry insights, sign up for our email newsletter below.