Household Food & Drink Waste – A Product Focus

This report provides extensive details about household food and drink waste including detailed reasons about why it is thrown away, the size of individual instances of waste and the proportion of food left in packaging. It also provides details of which meal occasions are linked to the most waste and the percentage of purchases that are wasted. 

Key findings

  • 2 million tonnes of household food is discarded because it is not ‘used in time’, half of which is thrown away whole or in unopened packaging, costing consumers around £2.4bn a year. 
  • In a third of cases, passing a date label triggered disposal, while foods judged by consumers to have ‘gone off’ before they could be eaten (mouldy, stale etc.) were responsible for most of the remaining 1.3 million tonnes. Significant progress has been made around clarifying date labels and storage guidance to keep food fresher for longer, under WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment, but the level of waste clearly shows more needs to be done.
  • Given that 90% of waste occurs in amounts more than 50g (3.8 million tonnes), there is a real opportunity to tackle a large volume of waste by finding new ways of helping people buy and use the amounts of food they need.

These insights will help WRAP and its partners develop more effective ways to help people waste less food. In particular, they highlight how sharing best practice between food categories could lead to significant waste reductions. Three recommendations are:

  • Provide a range of competitively-priced pack sizes with clear on-pack guidance on storage and freezing;
  • Continue to communicate what ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ mean, whilst ensuring they are correctly applied and set to be as long as possible;; and
  • Accelerate the roll out, and increase public awareness, of the ‘freeze before date mark’ label (replacing ‘freeze on day of purchase’).