Supermarket offers: Are Manchester families lured into wasting more food through deals, as UK bins £12billion?

By Dean Wilkins

Retailers are being blamed for nearly £12billion a year food wastage as families across Greater Manchester are lured to buy products in excess through ‘buy one get one free’ offers.

A recent study by Waste & Resource Action Programme found that families throw away £680 of food a year across the nation, with nearly 40% of people saying that it was because they bought too much.

Around one fifth of families claimed that they were enticed by retailers to buy excessive amounts of food through in-store offers and 90% of households with children admit to binning food.

“What a load of nonsense,” said Richard Dodd of the British Retail Consortium. “Retailers don’t actually use less offers than before and focus on using vouchers for total bills amounts, petrol discounts and seasonal product offers.”

Mr Dodd said that the study by WRAP showed a 13% reduction on total food weight from 2006 and 2010 but did not acknowledge the same study’s wasted food estimation of £12billion.

“I’ve seen a large variety of figures and am never entirely sure which are correct.

“Retailers work hard to combat the issue by putting information online about how consumers can buy, store and use food responsibly.”

Fresh vegetables came highest on the list of the most commonly wasted food group, followed by bread and fruit, and around two fifths of people questioned felt guilty for wasting food.

The problem of food waste is coming to light in Parliament after Waste Minister Lord John Taylor of Holbeach discussed issues of date labelling and when food is actually ‘off’.

Lord Taylor said: “Wasting perfectly good food is bad for household budgets and bad for the environment, which is why we are taking action to help people cut down on what they throw away.

“Through Wrap’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign we are helping households to waste less and save money, while our new guidance on food date labelling has cleared up confusion about when food is safe to eat.”

Love Food Hate Waste said that better guidance was needed for consumers who do their shopping without planning.

Emma Marsh, Head of LFHW, said: “Shopping day is often bin day too – we don’t check our cupboards or plan our meals before we go shopping so often get home to find we’ve already got what we went out and bought so replace the old stuff with the new. Many of us don’t know what to do with our freezer contents!”

Experts have challenged package labelling for ‘misleading’ consumers about when food is safe to eat.

Consumers are often put off of eating products that have surpassed their Sell By date and the LFHW want to change people’s approach to food consumption.

“We can work together to make it easier for us all to waste less. Tesco and Asda recently announced new packaging for fresh fruit and veg which doubles the shelf life of the product for shoppers, “ Ms Marsh added. “This means that we can all waste less simply and easily.”

Family’s wastage surpasses commercial business greatly thanks to charities like FareShare which strive to tackle hunger and put ‘waste’ food to good use by redistributing products to those in need.

FareShare are hoping to treble their current impact to reach 100,000 every day by delivering around 20,000 tonnes of annually wasted food.

WRAP’s study revealed that 7.2million tonnes of food are wasted each year.

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