According to a major study published on Tuesday, UK supermarkets could save £4 bln worth of food from going into bins by removing ‘best before’ dates where possible. The study is backed by advice to British retailers to sell fresh fruit and veg loose, where suitable, to cut plastic packaging.
“Around a fifth of food brought into UK homes ends up as waste, including £4 bln worth of binned fruit and vegetables, costing the average household hundreds of pounds a year,” says the study by Wrap, a sustainability and resource efficiency organisation focused on waste reduction.
The study is accompanied by new guidance for the sector for fresh, uncut fruit and vegetables. The guidance is produced by Wrap, the Food Standards Agency and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). It is expected to significantly reduce the UK’s annual food waste bill and help retailers identify where more fresh produce can be sold loose, and cut the use of ‘best before’ dates.
Peter Maddox, director at WRAP, said: “The way food and drink is packaged, labelled and priced can influence household food waste, and retailers and brands are uniquely placed to help minimise food waste in the home. Our research shows that people want clear, consistent information on pack to help them keep food fresher for longer. Overall, we’ve seen good progress from all, but we have also been very clear with each company where more work is required, and where they are falling short.”
Wrap visited nearly 60 supermarkets and examined 2,000 food products – those most frequently wasted in homes. The research found that a quarter of all pre-packed unprepared fresh produce now carries no date label, while the available shelf life of other products, such as milk, has increased.
Wrap also found that having a range of pack-sizes and formats including loose can help to reduce food waste. Offering fresh produce loose gives customers the opportunity to purchase the correct amount for their needs.