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

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.

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

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).

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