Food Waste Trends Survey 2019

24th January 2020

Citizen behaviours, attitudes and awareness around food waste 

Key findings
75% UK citizens have seen or heard information on food waste in the past year, and 22% recall seeing the Love Food Hate Waste logo in the past year.
However only 39% of us make a strong link between throwing away uneaten food and climate change.

WRAP’s Citizen Food Waste Prevention (CFWP) programme encourages households to reduce food waste. As part of this, WRAP undertakes an annual survey to track food waste attitudes, knowledge and behaviour. The Food Waste Trends Survey provides insights to inform the CFWP programme, as well as playing an evaluation role in assessing any changes in attitudes and behaviour. Over 2000 interviews were undertaken in May 2019. The survey found that:

There have been several notable communications successes in the past year. Three quarters of citizens surveyed have seen or heard information about food waste in the past year and there has been a significant increase in WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste brand recognition. In both cases this is the highest level recorded by the survey. 

There remains scope for attitudinal change. While the majority acknowledge food waste as an issue and recognise their own responsibility, somewhat fewer (three in ten) strongly recognise both of these things. Furthermore, while citizens acknowledge some of the impacts associated with food waste (most commonly wasting money and being unfair to those in the UK who don’t have enough to eat), fewer make a strong link to environmental issues and – in particular - climate change.

There is considerable scope to support citizens to adopt food management habits and practices that minimise the chance of uneaten food being thrown away. Key areas include judging/buying the right amount, storage knowledge (including freezer and fridge management) and using leftovers.

Some audiences within the population are more likely to have higher levels of food waste and/or would benefit more from being supported to adopt new behaviours and practices to help reduce food waste and save them money. This supports the need for targeted campaigns and interventions, either in terms of specific socio-demographics , such as 18-34 year olds.

The research also highlights that there is more work to be done. More organisations need to get behind food waste prevention campaigns such as Love Food Hate Waste, build momentum, increase awareness and change behaviours so less food is wasted.

And while the UK is a global leader in tackling food waste and supporting international food waste prevention projects, WRAP wants the UK to go further, faster. The organisation will continue to work closely with governments, businesses and citizens to address this throughout 2020; with the launch of a bold and far-reaching public campaign to ignite a national food conversation and complement the work of Love Food Hate Waste.

There are many ways to get invovled and organisations can amplify messages to help reach more citizens more often - whether they are staff, suppliers or customers:

  • Support WRAP's campaigns online, in print and with messages on products; with freely available partner packs for use in the UK.
  • Activities and events on the ground, appointing staff as ambassadors for change, and creating their own linked campaigns.

Get in touch to find out more.