They have been widely condemned as a major contributor to the nation’s £17bn food waste mountain, but a government report shows bogof promotions have been given a raw deal.

A report by government agency Wrap - the result of more than a year investigating the impact of promotions on waste - concluded that bogofs and other offers have a limited impact on the amount of food thrown away. The reality was that waste caused by promotions was far less than the public perceived it to be, it said.

With promotions showing no signs of slowing, the report has been welcomed by retailers, who have faced years of pressure from MPs and waste campaigners to reduce or even ban bogofs.

Earlier this year, the Local Government Association accused them of being a key factor behind an average of £520 of good food being thrown away by the average household each year.

However, Wrap, which worked with Kantar Worldpanel to review promotional mechanics across a range of products and undertook a major survey of consumers, concluded “food bought on promotion is not more likely to be wasted, at least for the products investigated.”

While 44% of consumers agreed with the statement that “buying food on offer leads to more food being thrown away”, just 4% said more was thrown away when they bought on offer.

“What this report is saying is that not only do people value promotions but they value food inherently,” said BRC food director Andrew Opie. “It doesn’t mean food waste is not an issue but it nails the myth that bogofs are to blame.”

The research also found bogofs represented less than 2% of products bought on promotion, with temporary price reductions (TPRs) by far the most common.

However, IGD research has shown the level of consumer opposition to multibuys on fresh products has grown, from 40% in 2009 to 56% at the end of 2010, with almost half claiming that replacing multibuys with TPRs would help them reduce food waste.