Two thirds of Brits (67%) admit they buy food knowing some of it will end up in the bin – with salad bags and vegetables the items most frequently chucked. Nearly three in ten (28%) say they do so on a weekly basis, according to new research released today. Younger ‘Gen Z’ Brits aged under 25 were found to be the worst offenders, with nearly half (47%) saying they buy food on a weekly basis knowing it will end up being chucked out.
The figures, from savoury cracker brand Jacob’s, found that British adults are each binning an average of £405-worth of food every year – around 13% of all the food they purchase. Across the UK, this is equivalent to £412m-worth of food being thrown out every week – or a staggering £21 billion per year.
To highlight how much food households waste every year and encourage Brits to be more resourceful, Jacob’s has created a 4.5m tall giant fridge on London’s Southbank filled with the most commonly wasted food items. The brand, which draws on over 160 years’ worth of baking expertise to create the ultimate crackers that can be paired with a host of toppings, will also be partnering with food waste charity FareShare, the UK’s largest charity fighting food waste and hunger, to donate 40,000 meals over the next year to support the charity’s network of nearly 9,500 charities and community organisations across the UK.
Brits ‘forced’ to buy larger amounts than they need
One of the key reasons Brits buy food knowing it will end up in the bin is because they feel ‘forced’ to buy items or packets of food that are larger than they actually need – something highlighted by 29%. This is most likely why 37% say they simply don’t get around to using things before they go off. However, for some, each item of food is a one hit wonder, with one in five (19%) saying they just don’t bother to eat leftovers and only 17% say they invent recipes based on food they have left over in their fridge.
Many are also not taking simple measures to help them reduce their waste. Nearly 4 in 10 (39%) don’t make a shopping list before going to the supermarket whilst 40% say they don’t even check what they actually need before heading out to do the food shop.
Brits’ attempts to be more environmentally friendly backfire
In some cases, Brits are trying to be healthier or more environmentally friendly, only for their well-meaning plans to backfire and lead to more waste. Four in ten (42%) say they buy foods that are better for the planet – such as meat alternatives – only to end up throwing them away because they don’t like them as much as what they usually get. Meanwhile nearly as many (41%) say they buy salad and fruit with the intention of being healthy, but in the end don’t eat all of it.
What gets thrown out the most?
The research found that fruit and vegetables are the items that are most frequently thrown away. The top ten items that Brits bin are:
- Salad bags (30%)
- Carrots (26%)
- Potatoes (24%)
- Oranges (22%)
- Lettuce (20%)
- Apples (15%)
- Grapes (12%)
- Cucumber (9%)
- Blueberries (7%)
- Cream (6%)
Children making food waste harder to avoid
Parents within the research highlighted the specific issues young ones pose when it comes to food waste. Three in ten (30%) say that they waste more food since having children – perhaps down to nearly half (47%) saying their kids often decide they don’t actually want what they’ve asked for. Meanwhile, flinging food also contributes to waste according to 28% of parents.
Brits want to do more
Brits know they need to up their game when it comes to reducing food waste, now more than ever; 43% say they need to be more resourceful due to the cost of living crisis, meanwhile four in ten (41%) highlight wanting to benefit the environment, as well as their finances.
In order to inspire Brits to be more resourceful with their food, Jacob’s has teamed up with Olympic champion, Greg Rutherford and Susie Verrill, parents to three young children, as well as sustainable chef Martyn Odell. The humongous, 4.5m tall Jacob’s Giant Fridge will double as a kitchen for Martyn to work his magic in, where he will be creating recipes from the most commonly-wasted items.
Greg Rutherford, presenter, dad of three and Olympic champion said: “Whilst most people know me as a long jumper, my most important role is doing my best to be a champion dad. I hate food waste and it’s important to both Susie and I to set a good example to our kids. We all need to think more carefully about the food we buy. When we’re shopping, taking time to think about what we really need and doing a bit of planning about how we can use everything can go a long way. I’m delighted to be working with Martyn, one of the most innovative food waste chefs in the country, to help more Brits understand how they can get more creative with the food in their fridges.”
Food waste disruptor, Martyn Odell, The Lagom Chef said: “I’m passionate about helping people to reduce their food waste and one of the easiest ways to do this is to eat the food you buy and we want to help people do just that! These simple snack ideas using Jacob’s crackers have been created using the most commonly wasted food items, so as to help people use up the food they would otherwise throw away.”
Kate Stokes, Senior Brand Manager, Jacob’s said: “Using up leftovers is a great way to put food to use that otherwise might go into the bin. We were surprised that so many people never try to think of recipes that use up the food they already have, and even more shocked that so many say they just don’t bother eating leftovers at all. That’s why we’re on a mission to encourage Less Waste and More Taste and working with Greg, Susie and Martyn to champion and celebrate resourcefulness.”
Alyson Walsh, Commercial Director at Fareshare added: “We are delighted with our long-term partnership with Jacob’s, whose campaign supports our mission to tackle food waste and divert it to social good. We’re incredibly grateful for their generous donation which will enable us to deliver up to 40,000 meals to our network of nearly 9,500 charities and community organisations across the UK.”
Using some of the most commonly thrown-away ingredients, Martyn has created three simple-to-make snacks, all delicious topping suggestions to a Jacob’s cracker. Visitors to London’s Southbank today (5th October) are able to sample Martyn’s tasty creations, with the full recipes available to view on the Jacob’s Pinterest page:
- Hummus and leftover salad pesto
- Cauliflower and broccoli with satay sauce
- Banoffee pie – cream, banana and caramel