The UK is a nation of food wasters with 75% of people throwing away fresh produce every week.
And surprisingly, young people (18-24-year-olds) are the worst offenders with 92% admitting they bin fresh food regularly, according to new research.
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.
The research, commissioned by UK food technology company It’s Fresh!, highlights that over half of us (51%) feel guilty when we 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.
Some parts of Great Britain are much more wasteful than others. The same study revealed that London is the most wasteful region in the UK, with 28% of residents throwing away more than 10% of the fruit and veg they buy each week.
This 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.
At the other end of the spectrum is Wales, where 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. Where food waste disposal is provided, people are less likely to throw fresh produce away: in Wales, 94% of respondents state that the Council provide a food waste bin. This is also the region that wastes the least food. 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.
Simon Lee, co-founder of It’s Fresh! said: “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.
“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. Technology like ours has the potential to hugely reduce waste."
“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.”
Middle and upper middle classes are more likely than those in social grade DE to throw away any fruit and veg each week (AB;79% vs. DE;71%). Frustration around wasting fruit and veg is most common among those in lower social grades (DE; 49% vs. AB; 40%).
It’s Fresh!, who 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 discreet 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 distinctive green and white filters that are increasingly appearing in packs of fruit and some veg, are used to slow ripening during transportation, whilst the produce is on sale in-store and most importantly at home giving consumers more time to enjoy best quality fruit and veg.
UK supermarkets including Morrisons, Waitrose and M&S have all adopted the technology to improve the shelf life and freshness of produce.
In the US Walmart and Albertsons Safeway are using the technology and in France Carrefour has adopted it.