Tuesday, 20 January 2015 10:30

Most food waste from households not supermarkets say retail body

The British Retail Consortium is pointing out that contrary to popular belief, recent figures show that very little food waste comes from supermarkets and their depots, but over half comes from households.

FoodWasteInfographicThe figures, using data from seven major supermarkets and independently collated by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) show that in 2013 only 1.3 per cent of all food waste came from the grocery retail industry. Of the 15 million tonnes of food thrown away in the UK every year half of the UK's annual food waste is actually generated in the home compared to only 200,000 tonnes that comes from the retail industry. WRAP estimates that there was a 10 per cent reduction in food and drink waste by grocery retailers and manufacturers between 2007 and 2012.

The seven supermarkets from which data arose were Asda, the Co-operative Food, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose. These retailers make up 87.3 per cent of the UK grocery market. They have agreed to voluntary targets on food and packaging waste through the Courtauld Commitments, coordinated by WRAP and supported by the UK government.

Beyond reducing their own food waste, supermarkets have been working through WRAP's Love Food, Hate Waste campaign with their customers to help them reduce household food waste, make it easier to purchase the right amount and to store food in the best way to prevent food waste. Retailers offer advice on how to use and store leftovers in their store, on packaging and online as well as amending freezing guidance and introducing innovative packaging to keep food fresher for longer. So far by working together, household food waste has been cut by 15 per cent, or around 1.3 million tonnes, between 2007 and 2012.

The BRC are keen to point out that supermarkets are also working with farmers and producer groups to tackle food waste and losses in agriculture as well as reviewing current specifications for produce, smarter ways to forecast and opportunities to improve storage and transportation. In addition, BRC say their members proactively discount products as they reach the end of their shelf life and are working with organisations such as FareShare, FoodCycle and Community Shop to redistribute more unsold surplus food to those who need it.

Andrew Opie, BRC Director of Food and Sustainability, said: "Our members are pleased to introduce new levels of transparency into the supply chain and today's figures tell a positive story about the vast efforts grocery retailers have made to reduce their food waste to only 1.3 per cent of the total. At the same time we all need to continue to focus on where we can make the biggest reductions in food waste and that is in the supply chain and the home. We have a huge contribution to make and will continue our work with suppliers and consumers to build on the progress we have already made."

BRC's A Better Retailing Climate initiative
WRAP Love Food, Hate Waste campaign
WRAP - Courtauld Commitment
Community Shop