Consumers reduce food waste as economic downturn continues to bite

A NEW SURVEY from consumer campaign group Which? reveals that up to 14 million people in the UK are reducing their food waste to save money.


Increasing food prices across many food types have seen the British public make changes to the way they deal with food, including reducing portion sizes, cooking with leftovers and freezing more to save money.


The cost of food has risen over the past six years by an average of 12% above inflation.


The report also revealed that eight in 10 of us (78%) are worried about rising food prices with nearly half (45%) saying they’re spending a larger proportion of their income on food compared to 12 months ago.


In the past 12 months, nearly half of shoppers said they freeze food (47%) or cook with leftovers (47%) to avoid waste. The survey also found that two in five (39%) said they are cooking smaller portions, so there is less chance of meals going in the bin.


It also found that consumers are changing their shopping habits in an effort to reduce food waste, with a third (35%) saying they are buying less food and a quarter (26%) doing more frequent top-up shops rather than one main food shop.


Four in 10 (43%) say they have started to check the ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ dates more frequently and a third (35%) have even stopped adhering to use by dates on food packets.


Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “Rocketing food prices are changing consumers’ habits, with more people helping themselves by cooking with leftovers and preparing smaller portions to avoid chucking expensive food in the bin.


“Our research shows that, with more people feeling the squeeze, they are also buying less food and even paying for it with their savings.


“We want supermarkets to help people find the best deal by displaying simpler pricing and ensuring that special offers are genuinely good value for money.”


The findings come after chef and campaigner, Jamie Oliver, has launched a new campaign born of public demand. ‘Save with Jamie’ offers top tips to help households cut down on food waste.