News article

27 September 2011

Half of shoppers claim to be throwing away less

Back to list of articles


Shoppers are throwing away less food than they did a year ago according to research by the Food and Drink Federation.

Half of the respondents to the six monthly consumer survey of over 1000 people claim to be throwing away a lot less or a little less food. Only (1%) are throwing away more, and food waste is mostly due to buying more fresh produce and not eating it all.

The survey also looked at how important environmental issues are to consumers with the majority, 86%, concerned about food waste and an equal number wanting to see packaging waste reduced. Using packaging which can be recycled, reuse or bio-degraded was important to 81% of the respondents.

Shoppers also supported the food industry using new technologies and initiatives to reduce environmental impact. Reducing energy use in production and distribution was important to 75%. Using ingredients from sustainable sources such as the marine stewardship certification was important to 73% followed by reducing carbon emissions (68%), reducing water use (68%), using scientific developments (66%) and transporting products from abroad by rail rather than road (61%).

When looking at responsibility for wasted food, 67% think it is down to the individual/family, 28% think it a shared responsibility of the individual/family and food industry and 6% feel it is the responsibility of the food industry.

FDF Director of Communications Terry Jones said:

“We are really encouraged by these figures that show we are not wasting as much food as we were a year ago. Around 5.3million tonnes of perfectly good food is thrown out each year, costing around £12 billion which is a waste of resources and money. Shoppers have good intentions and are buying fresh produce in order to eat healthily but often this goes to waste. It can be avoided by menu planning and using a good mix of fresh and frozen products and there is lots of good advice from organisations such as WRAP on making food go further."

“We are also pleased to see that shoppers are still interested in the environment and want to see more done to reduce energy and water use and source sustainable raw materials. The food industry has been doing a lot to resolve this and is now sending less than 10% of its food waste to landfill.”

Notes to Editors

The responses are part of a consumer barometer survey of 1,051 people conducted on behalf of FDF by Harris interactive. The results listed are those respondents indicating that an issue is 'very important' or 'quite important' to them.

Full survey questions in percentages

How important is it for the food industry to focus on the following? (questions in percentages - not all will add up to 100%)
  very important quite important Neither important nor unimportant Not very important Not important at all
Reducing food waste 47 39 11 2 1
Reducing packaging 45 41 12 1 1
Using packaging that can be recycled 42 39 15 2 2
Sourcing products close to stores 33 44 18 3 2
Using raw materials from sustainable sources 32 41 22 3 2
Using renewable energies 28 41 24 4 3

Compared to a year ago, would you say you/your household is throwing away
  percentage (%)
A lot less uneaten food 25
A little less uneaten food 25
About the same 43
Somewhat more 3
A lot more uneaten food 1
Not sure 3

Top reasons for throwing away more

  1. Buying more fresh food and not eating it all
  2. Family size has increased so buying more
  3. Buying food on promotion and no eating all
  4. Other reasons (not specified)
Importance of environmental issues (questions in percentages - not all will add up to 100%
  very important quite important Neither important nor unimportant Not very important Not important at all
Reducing energy use in production/distribution 27 48 21 3 1
Using sustainably sourced raw material 32 41 22 3 2
Reducing C02 25 43 24 5 3
Reducing water usage in production/distribution 24 44 26 5 2
Using scientific developments to reduce impacts 20 46 28 4 2
Transporting by rail rather than road 23 38 31 5 3
Transporting by ship rather than air 15 36 38 8 4

More information

FDF Press team
Nicki Hunt on or 020 7420 7132 -
Rebecca Wilhelm or 020 7420 7140 -
Sarah Jenkinson or 020 7420 7131 -
Anna Taylor or 020 7420 7118 -

Back to list of articles