Helping Consumers Reduce Food Waste: Retail Survey 2015

27th February 2017

Progress made by retailers & brands in helping people buy the right amounts of food, and to make better use of the food they buy.

Key points
The report identifies where further action is required, which will inform activity under the Courtauld Commitment 2025 to reduce household food waste
Changes to products and labelling could help prevent £1 billion a year of food from being wasted
Good progress has been made in some areas (simplifying date labelling and updating freezing advice) but there is much more that can be done

Around 2 million tonnes of food is thrown away from households due to ‘not being used in time’, and for a third of this, the date label is cited as a factor. Giving consumers longer to make use of the food they buy has the potential to significantly reduce household food waste.

Helping Consumers Reduce Food Waste – Retail Survey 2015 highlights good progress made by retailers in a number of areas:

  • Simplification of date labelling, with fewer than 3% of packs displaying more than one date (such as a ‘Display Until’ date used in combination with either ‘Use By’ or ‘Best Before’, which shoppers find confusing);

  • Two high-volume products (hard cheese and pasteurised fruit juice) moving away from predominantly carrying ‘Use By’ to overwhelmingly carrying ‘Best Before’ dates; and

  • Many products moving away from ‘Freeze on day of purchase.’

Priorities for future action by retailers and manufacturers include:

  • Reviewing the choice of date mark on products that currently carry a ‘Use By’ date, and moving to a ‘Best Before’ where there is not a food safety risk;
  • Reviewing both the ‘closed’ and ‘open’ life set for products that are commonly thrown away unused;
  • Continuing to implement WRAP and Food Standards Agency guidance on freezing advice, across all products that can be frozen at home; and
  • Reviewing the availability and relative pricing of smaller packs / split packs for products that are wasted in high volumes (bread being a priority).