Retailers Rethinking Food Waste


Food waste reduction is becoming an increasingly discussed topic at household level right through to retailers who are working with charities to ensure surplus food is used rather than wasted. The way that retailers look at fresh produce has shifted, with food being repurposed and redistributed to prevent it from ending up in landfill. Some of the UK’s major retailers are now working with charities, including FareShare, to provide access to surplus stock prior to the use by date. This means food can be cooked or frozen to provide meals to charities and community groups across the country. The charity Hubbub is also working with retailers to introduce community fridges which can be used by local businesses, retailers and households to donate food for others to use, preventing wastage.

Wrap reported that 7.3 million tonnes of food a year is wasted which, if prevented, would have the same environmental benefit as taking one in four cars off the road. Retailers have also adopted alternative ways to repurpose produce which may not meet the requirements to be sold as Class 1 in stores, previously resulting in it being disposed of. Morrisons has introduced its range of ‘Wonky Veg’ and Tesco have their ‘Waste Not’ range using fruit and veg, that would have otherwise been turned away, in their cold press juices in a bid to lessen waste.

Tesco have also recently announced their decision to remove best before labels on 70 of their fresh produce lines in a bid to prevent food being thrown away, despite still being edible. The confusion between best before dates and use by dates is causing food to be disposed of when it can still be used, by removing this labelling the intention is to encourage customers to make their own decisions about product freshness.

Changing consumer attitudes towards food and introducing innovative ways to use more produce is a major step forward in the bid to reduce food waste, contributing towards the EU’s initiative to halve the amount of food waste on a retailer and consumer level by 2030. The question is whether this is enough to make a difference to how households use and dispose of their food and whether ‘wonky’ produce will, over time, become the norm.

Published: 29th May 2018

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