How food manufacturers can help consumers reduce food waste

Whereas the points on avoiding food loss during processing are relevant to all food and drink manufacturers, the relevance of the following guidance will depend on the product or primary product that is being produced.

  •  Extend shelf life through packaging and processing innovation

Assess products to find ways to provide a longer shelf life, without reducing quality or risking food safety (e.g. re-sealable packs). Packaging plays an important role in protecting and preserving food throughout the supply chain and in the home. Simply reducing packaging is not always preferable because as packaging is reduced and/or compromised, the likelihood of food spoilage arising increases. Eventually a point is reached at which the negative environmental impact of food wastage outweighs the environmental benefits of using less packaging material.

The Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda of the European Technology Platform Food for Life recommends researching novel modified atmosphere technologies and smart intelligent/communicative packaging solutions to reduce cold/frozen chain use for fresh foods, which would consequently reduce energy consumption, carbon emissions, preservatives intake and food waste.

 Examples:    

  •  Provide clear date labels

Provide clear, consistent and easy-to-read information about durability

  •  Provide clear storage, freezing, defrosting and preparation instructions

Provide clear storage guidance, freezing and defrosting instructions and preparation instructions for consumers on pack. WRAP offers a decision tree to help manufacturers give clear freezing instructions on products.

Example:  

Example: Guidance on how to store Nido, a fortified milk powder, to avoid wastage

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  • Make dispensing food easier

Food packaging innovations can make dispensing food easier for consumers so they remove as much as possible from the packaging.

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  •  Provide a variety of portion sizes

Single person households and young people generate more food waste than other demographic groups[2]. Food manufacturers can help consumers better manage food at home with portion sizes that fit their needs.

Examples:

  

Cooking, preparing or serving too much food is one of the main reasons why consumers waste food.[3] Indications on packaging and measuring tools can help consumers prepare the right amount of food.

Examples:

  • Inform consumers about packaging and labelling innovations that help prevent food spoilage.

Keeping food fresh is a priority for consumers, but many are not making the best use of the information on pack, or the packaging itself, to ensure freshness, according to a UK WRAP study. Be sure to raise awareness of the benefits of innovations that prevent spoilage and encourage consumers to make use of them.

The UK Food and Drink Federation has worked with WRAP and other partners on a new behavioural change initiative, entitled ‘Fresher for longer’, which was launched under the Love Food Hate Waste programme in March 2013. The initiative is intended to show consumers how food packaging and the way it is used can help reduce food waste and save money. Communication materials are available to download and use from the Partners website, such as template posters, postcards, bag clip postcards, editorial and tweets.



[1] Continuous Environmental Improvement, European Food SCP Round Table, 2012

[2] European Commission (2010) Preparatory study on food waste across EU 27, October.

[3] WRAP (2009) Household food and drink waste in the UK.