Wrap said there had been fears of a food waste disaster as shoppers bought substantially more products
Better fridge management, higher levels of freezing and more creative use of leftovers were helping to reduce waste
Levels of waste across staple food items including potatoes, bread, chicken and milk was down by a third
Lockdown has taught UK shoppers how to reduce food waste, according to a new survey by Wrap, which said it hoped to make the better habits the “new normal”.
Research among almost 5,000 UK adults, carried out last month, shows that levels of waste across staple food items including potatoes, bread, chicken and milk was down by a third compared to pre-coronavirus levels.
With shoppers slashing the number of trips to stores but buying substantially more products, Wrap said there had been fears of a food waste disaster.
However, with people cooking far more than usual at home and eating significantly fewer takeaways, the survey shows they have become much better at preventing waste.
Respondents reported a range of measures which were having an impact of reducing food waste, including more planning, better fridge management, higher levels of freezing and more creative use of leftovers.
Just over one in three (36%) households said they threw away less uneaten food overall in the past month, compared to just 4% who said they were throwing away more.
The average level of reported waste across four key products (bread, milk, potatoes and chicken) stood at 13.7%, a 34% reduction on the same survey last year.
Meanwhile, 24% reported they had bought more milk in lockdown; 23% said the same for bread.
Lockdown had resulted in stockpiling of tinned vegetables, frozen vegetables, pasta and rice, whilst the only big decreases came in salad packs, pre-cut packs of vegetables and ready meals.
However, it said high levels of food stockpiled could present a risk of food waste after lockdown measures were eased.
“In this sustained period of uncertainty, UK citizens have shown how resilient they can be when it comes to managing their food,” said Wrap CEO Marcus Gover.
“These actions should mean less food goes to waste, helping take the pressure off the supply chain and reducing the number of trips we need to make to the shops - or deliveries to our homes.
“Our goal is to help people use these approaches to set a blueprint for their future actions and work in partnership with businesses, local authorities, and government to make this approach to valuing food the new normal.”