New research from INCPEN shows that the top 20 food items wasted or reduced-to-clear between the wholesale depot and the retail check-out are led by fruit (40%), followed by meat and poultry (20%) with vegetables and bakery close behind.
Together they account for 22,000 tonnes of waste at a value of £43 million each year.
The study ‘Checking out Food Waste’ looks at weight and financial value by product category and product type. It uses actual data from three major UK supermarkets who together account for 65% of the UK market – unlike most previous work which has been extrapolated or estimated from small samples.
INCPEN Director, Jane Bickerstaffe, says, “Few packaged products appear in the top 20. It is worth noting that the majority of the high wastage foods are typically sold both loose and pre-packed. It would therefore be worth exploring if packaging more of those sold loose would reduce waste.”
According to the Global Food Security programme, almost three quarters of food wasted occurs at the household level. However wastage in the supply chain also needs to be addressed. This study identifies what is wasted. Additional work needs to be done to understand why it happens so that ways to prevent and reduce it can be found.
One interesting finding is that levels of wastage in different retailers are different for the same items– so there may be a clear opportunity for them to learn from each other.
This work adds to a growing bank of information, including the recent UN Food and Agriculture Organisation study which estimated the cost of food waste worldwide to be £470 billion.
The work was done by PEC Partnership.