Combined figures from the UK’s seven major supermarkets have revealed that the retail sector wastes 200,000 tonnes of food per year, equating to 1.3 percent of the 15m tonnes of food wasted each year in total.
The WRAP-collated figures show that half of food wasted in the UK is actually generated at home.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which published the 2013 figures this week, say this is contrary to popular belief, and that “very little food waste comes from supermarkets and their depots.”
The sector is the only UK industry to publish a combined food waste figures.
WRAP estimates that there was a 10 percent reduction in food and drink waste by grocery retailers and manufacturers between 2007 and 2012.
Andrew Opie, BRC director of food and sustainability, said: “Our members are pleased to introduce new levels of transparency into the supply chain and today’s figures tell a positive story about the vast efforts grocery retailers have made to reduce their food waste to only 1.3 percent of the total.
British Retail Consortium – “At the same time we all need to continue to focus on where we can make the biggest reductions in food waste and that is in the supply chain and the home”
“At the same time we all need to continue to focus on where we can make the biggest reductions in food waste and that is in the supply chain and the home. We have a huge contribution to make and will continue our work with suppliers and consumers to build on the progress we have already made.”
Beyond reducing their own food waste, the BRC says supermarkets are “acutely aware of their customers’ desire to get the most value from the food they buy”, and have been working through WRAP’s Love Food, Hate Waste campaign with their customers to help them reduce household food waste, make it easier to purchase the right amount and to store food in the best way to prevent food waste.
It says retailers also offer advice on how to use and store leftovers in their store, on packaging and online as well as amending freezing guidance and introducing innovative packaging to keep food fresher for longer.
So far, by working together, household food waste has been cut by 15 percent, or around 1.3m tonnes, between 2007 and 2012, it says.
Supermarkets are also working with farmers and producer groups to tackle food waste and losses in agriculture as well as reviewing current specifications for produce, smarter ways to forecast and opportunities to improve storage and transportation.
In addition, BRC says its members “proactively discount products” as they reach the end of their shelf life and working with organisations such as FareShare, FoodCycle and Community Shop to redistribute more unsold surplus food to those who need it.