As much food is thrown away from supermarkets, restaurants and homes as is bought by shoppers, according to new research by the Liberal Democrats.
Government estimates, revealed in a Parliamentary answer, show that 18-20 million tonnes of food is thrown away every year, 6.7 million of which is wasted by UK households.
Around 20m tonnes of food is bought by shoppers every year.
Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Tim Farron asked Environment Secretary Dan Norris (13 July) to make an estimate of the volume and proportion of food from supermarkets, households, restaurants, other eating establishments and other sources which was wasted in the last year.
Norris said that the Waste & Resources Action Programme is currently undertaking research on the amounts of food waste produced by the retail sector and its supply chain and by the hospitality industry. This research will be published later in 2009.
The Lib Dems recently set out its waste proposals in Our natural heritage: Policies on the natural environment, which include setting up an independent committee to recommend binding targets for reducing wasteful consumption (see MRW story).
Farron said: It is absolutely scandalous that as much food is wasted in the UK as is bought by shoppers in supermarkets. Rising prices have put a huge strain on peoples budgets and yet supermarkets and restaurants are throwing away food by the tonne.
While it is right that everyone makes an individual effort to cut down the amount they throw away, the UK needs a proper strategy to make sure commercial food waste is seriously reduced.