An increase in the availability of smaller pack sizes, clearer date labelling and improved storage and freezing guidance are all helping consumers to reduce the £12bn worth of food they waste, says new research from WRAP
The WRAP Retailer Survey 2012 demonstrates that the food industry is making good progress towards making it easier for customers to get the best from the food they buy - but it shows there's still more to be done.
"Today's report points to some great progress that's been made," said WRAP Design & Waste Prevention Director Richard Swannell. "The steps retailers and manufacturers have been taking have made an important contribution towards helping reduce the amount of food we buy and waste."
The 2012 survey looked at 12,000 products across 20 different categories where food waste has traditionally been high, including bread, bacon, chicken, apples, carrots, potatoes, bagged salad, rice, pasta, yoghurt, eggs, cheese and milk.
"We know from our research into food waste that the amount we're throwing away every year has fallen - but we're still wasting enough food to fill Wembley Stadium nine times. There is still more we could all do to reduce waste - and save money in these hard-pressed times - and the food industry can help us," said Richard.
The survey's findings included:
While the results suggest good progress, WRAP has cautioned there's still more that needs to be done to help consumers waste less.
"We're continuing to work closely with the food industry through the Courtauld Commitment, trade associations, the Food Standards Agency and Governments, to provide clear recommendations, and the evidence they need to implement further changes," said Richard.
"There are areas where we think retailers could continue to make improvements - for example, by removing display until dates, increasing consistency of use by or 'best before' date use and ensuring that consumers are given as long as possible to make use of the food (shelf-life). Increasing the proportion of products that carry freezing and defrosting guidance and the use of freeze before date mark label could also make a big difference."
WRAP believes that combining effective consumer communication with innovation is critical to continued progress. "Manufacturers and supermarkets alike have made great strides with both technological innovations and supporting WRAP's Love Food Hate Waste initiative," added Richard. "It would be great to see more of the same."