Extend food shelf-life by one day and save £600m, says WRAP

Extending the product life of everyday foods by just one day could prevent 250,000 tonnes of food waste each year, according to the Waste and Resources Action Plan (WRAP).

The waste charity released a report on Tuesday, detailing five ways in which suppliers and retailers can easily extend the product life of everyday foods, including milk, chicken, and bread – without any ill-effect.

Product life increases of just one day would save around 5% of the UK’s preventable food waste, with a benefit to consumers of around £500m. Retailers also stand to save £100m.

WRAP Guide: How to safely extend product life

1. Retailers and manufacturers should challenge safety and quality buffers to try and identify opportunities to extend product life for the consumer

2.Retailers should adopt ‘Open life’ guidance (the time an item is deemed safe to eat or retains its optimum quality once opened) use it for food safety, not where quality is the limiting factor

3.Supply chain practices such as stock rotation should be reviewed with a view to increasing the available life for consumers

4.Delivery times to retailers should be benchmarked with a view to improving performance

5.WRAP continues to call for ‘Display-until’ dates to be removed from all foods and that only ‘Use-by’ or ‘Best before’ dates are used.


WRAP director of sustainable food systems Dr. Richard Swannell said: “The findings in our report are a real opportunity for industry. By implementing these simple recommendations, food manufacturers and retailers can make a big difference in the battle against food waste, without even having to change products and packaging.

The report has the backing of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), as Dr Linden Jack, head of food hygiene policy branch at the FSA, said the proposals could feasibly extend food life without compromising safety.

“The FSA’s number one priority is food safety and use-by dates in particular have an important role to play in protecting consumers. However we recognise more needs to be done to help us all reduce the amount of food wasted every year in the UK.”

North of the border

Zero Waste Scotland also welcomed the report, with chief executive Ian Gulland saying: “In Scotland, we throw out 630,000 tonnes of food waste annually from our homes.

“Much of that is avoidable and this food waste is costing us a fortune – around £1 billion per year. What’s more, tackling avoidable food waste in Scotland would be the environmental equivalent of taking one-in-four cars off the road.”

 Brad Allen

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