WRAP chief calls for bigger business appetite to halve food waste

Big business must be more proactive in working with governments and consumers to tackle the growing problem of food waste, according to WRAP's chief executive Liz Goodwin.

Goodwin has called for a “major combined effort” from all stakeholders across the food value chain to work together towards halving avoidable food waste in the UK by 2025 compared to 2007 – potentially resulting in multi-billion pound savings to the economy.

New research revealed by WRAP today shows that despite cutting food waste by a fifth (21%) since 2007, the nation still throws away 4.2 million tonnes of household food which could have been eaten.

Consumers buying more than they need coupled with a lack of clarity around storage and labelling, are just some of the reasons for this waste. The average UK household throws away the equivalent of six meals every week, costing the UK economy £12.5bn a year.

The study ‘Food and Drink Waste in the UK 2012’ demonstrates that it could be possible to reduce avoidable household food waste by a further 1.7 million tonnes a year by 2025, but this would require a collective effort particularly from retailers and brand leaders to educate and engage consumers in more creative ways on the issue.

Goodwin acknowledged that there was still a long way to go to tackling the problem effectively, but that big opportunities were there for the taking.

“If we all make a major combined effort to act now, we can save up to £45 billion by 2025. It won’t be easy but what a prize if we achieve it. I commit that food waste will remain a top priority for WRAP and we will be pleased to work with those who share my aspiration,” she said.

Reacting to the announcement, British Retail Consortium (BRC) director of food & sustainability, Andrew Opie said that retailers accept the challenge of partnership working.

He pointed out that BRC members have recently committed to working with food manufacturers to cut household food waste by a further 5% by 2015.
“Retailers know they are judged by the value they offer consumers, which means not only selling food at the right price but also making sure we can make the most of it. A range of approaches, including giving clear storage advice and recipe ideas, offering a wider range of portion sizes, and developing innovative packaging that extends the shelf life of products,” he added.

The report updates WRAP’s 2007 report ‘The Food We Waste’ which exposed the full scale of the food waste problem for the first time.

Maxine Perella

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