Salad leaves, bread, fruit and vegetables, as well as leftovers and open jars of sauce were the most discarded in a survey commissioned for the supermarket’s publication, Waitrose Weekend.
The findings mark the start of the newspaper’s Live Wise campaign, which aims to help customers make the most of the food they buy.
With 25% of respondents to the poll saying they forget what food they have in their kitchen, Waitrose will offer handy hints and recipes to help people reduce wasted food. And the weekly newspaper has also recruited four households who have accepted the challenge to have a zero-waste kitchen.
In addition, Live Wise will support shoppers with an online handbook, (available from 20th July at waitrose.com/livewise), featuring a seven-day meal plan, recipes to help home cooks make the most of leftovers and offer portion control tips.
Although the amount of food going in the bin remains constant across the country, there are differences in age groups according to the supermarket’s poll. The amount wasted decreases with age, from 44% of 18 to 25-year-olds discarding it every day, to 16% of over-55s.
Busy households also created waste. One respondent said: “My husband and adult children change their minds or decide to have a takeout. They also moan when things are not in the cupboard or fridge. And if fruit is not there they want it, and when I buy it they do not eat it and it’s thrown away.”
Another said: “We cook a whole chicken for our family, and often have some left. The idea is we will eat it the next day or the day after at lunch, but we often forget it’s there and it ends up thrown away.”
Although throwing food away is a common occurrence, it is not done without regret, according to the Weekend survey. Four in five people said it made them feel either really or quite guilty, while 89% said they hated wasting food. What’s more, more than 40% said they were happy to eat leftovers for lunch the next day.
“It’s really quite startling how much goes to waste and we hope our campaign can help shoppers get more from their groceries. As well as financial gains, reducing waste has a positive effect on the environment too.”
Waitrose Food Editor, Silvana Franco says, “The desire to reduce waste is clearly there, we just need to start making a few fundamental changes to the way we buy, store and cook food. For example, taking stock of what foods are near their use-by date and then freezing or cooking them before it’s too late. It’s really quite startling how much goes to waste and we hope our campaign can help shoppers get more from their groceries. As well as financial gains, reducing waste has a positive effect on the environment too.”
Alison Hepworth, from Waitrose Weekend, has been working with the supermarket’s four volunteer households. She says: “We learnt pretty quickly that no one wants to waste food, and they were making an effort not to. But keeping control of food going in and out of the kitchen is tough, and circumstances meant there were times when the wheels, understandably, fell off.
“They all face individual challenges – from health and budgetary to cooking confidence and time pressures. They are also stuck in a culinary rut –unsure and unmotivated about how to use up surplus food. So to help them out, we have adopted a holistic approach, and offered support and advice that meant they’d enjoy cooking and eating, as well as reducing food waste.”
Over the coming weeks, Waitrose Weekend will reveal how the households have got on.
Food Waste Hacks
A Waitrose team of food editors and chefs has pulled together 100 anti food waste hacks, showing home cooks crafty ways to reduce the food they throw in the bin. These include saving onion skins for stock, adding oil and vinegar to end-of-the-jar remnants of jam for a fruity salad dressing and using the water from a can of chickpeas (in place of egg white) to make a vegan meringue.
In 2015, Waitrose signed up to the Courtauld Commitment 2025, a voluntary agreement to reduce UK food waste by a fifth in 10 years. The commitment, which is being run by the government-backed waste charity WRAP, aims to reduce greenhouse gases by a fifth as a result.
Being a founding signatory to this commitment, Waitrose is dedicated to minimising surplus and has provided training to all branch Partners (employees) on food waste reduction. The retailer has also extended its FareShare scheme, which uses a mobile app to alert local charities when surplus food is available, to 25 shops.
Since its launch in March this year, an equivalent of over 15,000 meals have been donated to 99 charity partnerships.
The supermarket continues to promote its ‘forgotten cuts’ range, which features lesser-used cuts of meat, and customers can collect used coffee grounds from in-store cafes for use as garden fertiliser.
Waitrose has a Little Less Than Perfect range of veg with minor imperfections, including skin blemishes and splits. The range has been extended to include weather blemished pears, apples, green beans and tomatoes.