A new report by Sainsbury’s lifts the lid on food waste habits in Britain today.
Studying the food waste patterns of 5,000 people, the study by the supermarket chain has identified four types of behaviours that lead to households wasting 7m tonnes of food each year.
Of this 7m tonnes of waste, 4.2m tonnes are completely avoidable, Sainsbury’s said, meaning households could save money while saving the environment.
The findings emerged last Wednesday (September 7) as Sainsbury’s launched its first ever advertising campaign for its ‘Waste less, Save more’ initiative, designed to help homes across the country save and store food more efficiently.
As part of the promotion, one million free fridge thermometers will be given out this weekend to ensure fridges are at the right temperate to prolong the life of fresh food.
Commenting on Sainsbury’s biggest ever report into household food waste, Sainsbury’s ceo Mike Coupe said: “We know our customers are concerned about food waste in their own homes, which is why we’ve committed £10 million to help tackle the issue as part of our ‘Waste less, Save more’ programme.
“Wasting food has become so normal there is now no stigma attached to throwing food away. This report identifies the four behaviours that drive household food waste. Now we know these, we can focus our efforts on helping people actually change their behaviour.
“The report also shows that people are cost-conscious and making concerted efforts to turn off lights and minimise energy use.
“However, people are still overlooking the much bigger savings that could be delivered by simply throwing away less food. Hopefully our campaign will help people waste less food and save more money.”
The four ‘bin-fluence’ behaviours identified in the report are:
BIN-FLUENCE 1: AWARENESS
The report finds that people are not aware of the potential savings they would make with simple behaviour changes, such as meal-planning or writing a shopping list. 70% of us don’t believe that list-writing could save us money, and yet those who do write a list spend £145 less on food annually.
In addition, the majority of Britain’s shoppers believe that only 10% of their monthly food budget will be spent on avoidable food waste, which equates to £400 per year. However, in reality this figure is £700 for the average family.
BIN-FLUENCE 2: BEHAVIOUR
When it comes to food waste in the UK, people think they know what they’re doing. However, the report found a disconnect between the knowledge people claim to have and their actual behaviour.
95% of people claimed to be confident in freezing food, while 74% believe they are confident cooking meals from leftovers. And yet, nearly two-fifths (37%) of people admit to not using their leftovers, despite those who do saving £260 per year.
Meanwhile, other money-saving habits have become the norm, with 74% of people turning the lights off when they leave a room, promising a potential saving of just £15 per year. A third of us have even changed energy supplier, saving an average of £200 a year – which is three and half times less than the annual cost of a family binning food.
BIN-FLUENCE 3: ROLE MODELS
Despite the prevalence of food bloggers, chefs and foodie social media stars, when it comes to food waste we are lacking high-profile role models.
Four in ten (40%) people admitted they do not know who to look to for guidance on how to reduce their food waste.
What’s more, this figure grows steadily as it moves to younger generations. While only 12% of those aged over 65 wish they knew more about managing and cooking food, nearly half (47%) of those aged 18-24 admit a lack of knowledge in the kitchen, demonstrating a need to inspire younger people when it comes to reducing food waste.
BIN-FLUENCE 4: SOCIETY
Over the years, food has become more accessible and more experimental. This cultural shift is much more prominent in those under 35, with more than half (55%) of Millennials identified as ‘living-to-eat’ rather than ‘eating-to-live’. This falls to a third (33%) amongst those over 35.
But a desire to explore the latest foodie trends is also contributing to food waste. 86% of us admit to buying ingredients for one specific recipe, knowing they will struggle to use it elsewhere.
Mike Coupe said: “In January, we launched ‘Waste less, Save more’ with a year-long trial to uncover the best ways of helping communities cut food waste. While we’re still only half-way through, we’re delighted with the progress so far and have already learned some important lessons.
“So this weekend we’ll be giving away one million free fridge thermometers to help customers keep their food fresher for longer, cutting waste and saving money. This is the first of what I hope will be a number of practical solutions we’ll be delivering; working closely customers and their communities to help them make the most of their shop and ultimately save money.”
Sainsbury’s is now preparing to roll out the learnings from its ‘Waste less, Save more’ research with a trial town. After a nationwide search, the market town of Swadlincote in South Derbyshire has been selected. Sainsbury’s has pledged a £1m investment to test a range of initiatives in a bid to cut the town’s food waste by 50%.