Reducing Food Waste: A Creative Approach to Sustainability

In a world grappling with food scarcity and environmental concerns, it’s essential that we rethink our habits surrounding food waste. Recent statistics from our Sustainability Study reveal that while some individuals are finding innovative ways to minimise waste, there’s still a significant room for improvement.

A staggering 69% of people admit to getting creative with recipes using leftover food. This is an encouraging trend because it not only reduces food waste but also showcases culinary creativity. From transforming last night’s roast chicken into a flavourful stir-fry to repurposing vegetables into a hearty soup, these efforts not only save money but also contribute to a more sustainable future.

However, there’s another side to the story. Surprisingly, 35% of individuals confess that they often stick to the best-by date on food labels rather than relying on their senses of sight and smell. While best-by dates can be helpful guidelines, they don’t always signify spoilage. Trusting our senses is crucial for reducing unnecessary waste. By learning to distinguish between truly spoiled food and items that are still perfectly safe to eat, we can cut down on food waste and grocery expenses.

Perhaps the most concerning statistic is that 25% of people still frequently throw away leftover food. This is a stark reminder that despite increased awareness, a significant portion of the population continues to waste precious resources. It’s imperative that we address the root causes of this behaviour, which may include portion control, meal planning, or a lack of knowledge about food preservation techniques.

So, how can businesses support consumers to combat food waste more effectively?

  • Support with meal planning: Companies like HelloFresh and Gusto are particularly good at encouraging meal planning and helping portion control through their personalised meal kits. Could other brands and retailers offer similar services to encourage more effective meal planning?
  • Encourage best judgement: Many supermarkets are now removing ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates on fresh produce and dairy products, e.g. Waitrose, M&S, Co-op, in an attempt to encourage consumers to use their best judgement and subsequently waste less food. The success of these initiatives will likely dictate if more product lines remove expiry dates.
  • Enable creativity: Encourage customers to embrace their inner chef and find imaginative ways to repurpose leftovers into new and exciting dishes. Many supermarkets share recipes on their websites for using leftovers. Could this be more prevalent in-store, e.g. through recipe cards or in-store demonstrations?
  • Educate customers: Providing clear, concise information on how to reduce food waste, e.g. food storage, maximising ingredients, will help customers feel more confident. This can have a ripple effect – for example parents may pass this knowledge down to their children.

By supporting customers to make small changes in their daily lives and collectively working to reduce food waste, we can help them to make a significant impact on the environment, their wallets, and global food security. Change won’t happen overnight, but we can encourage change one meal at a time.

If you would like to find out how we can help you, then get in touch with Tom Gould, Head of Consumer:

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