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Report maps UK retailers’ efforts to deal with plateauing food waste numbers

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), the trade association for the UK retail industry, has published a report exploring the country’s retailers’ actions in the aftermath of the amount of food waste plateauing in 2013.

Data from the UK Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) shows that retailed produced about 200,000 tonnes of food waste annually between 2013 and 2015.

BRC’s environment policy adviser, Alice Ellison, suggests one of the reasons for this is because the actions retailers have taken – such as initiatives around food surplus redistribution and addressing “hotspots” such as in-store bakeries – will not feed into results until next year’s figures.

The report suggests that changes in the methodologies used for measuring food waste could have also influenced results, as well as figures being sensitive to changes in operating models, such as moving away from longer life products towards shorter life and fresh products.

“The important thing to remember is that retail food waste is about 2.5% of all food waste in the UK, post farm gate,” Ellison said.

“To really address food waste we need to look at the supply chain and in the home, and retailers have a shared responsibility to address that.”

The BRC report outlines a number of case studies across the supply chain it says are contributing to the battle against food waste.

These studies include retailers trialling “wonky veg” promotions, linking growers, manufacturers and processors together, extending the shelf life of products, and redistributing surplus food to charities.

At the moment we do not know how much food is actually being wasted at primary production level, Ellison said.

“This is an important area both in the UK and overseas where food is produced and imported into the UK market,” she concluded.





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