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Storage in packaging will cut food waste, WRAP says

Better awareness of the benefits of storing food in packaging will help reduce food waste, according to new report from WRAP.

The report, backed by a campaign, “Fresher for Longer”, says that food retailers, manufacturers and trade associations should raise consumer awareness about the benefits of using packaging to make food last longer.

UK consumers throw away £6.7bn worth of food a year because it goes off before it is used, according to WRAP.

The report, Consumer Attitudes to Food Waste and Food Packaging, has been produced in partnership with INCPEN, The Packaging Federation, Food and Drink Federation (FDF), Kent Waste Partnership and the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The research says that despite changes to food packaging, including more vacuum-packing and recloseable packs, only 13% of consumers are aware that packaging is useful for storing food at home, with most thinking that leaving food in packaging makes food go off more quickly.

According to the report, 90% of consumers say they are “very” or “fairly” confident they store their food in the best way to keep it fresh. However, nearly two-thirds unpack in a way that could reduce the longevity of the product, for example, 64% take apples out of the pack or do something to the bag, such as pierce it, or put bread in the fridge.

Of those surveyed, 84% say they would be “very” or “fairly” likely to use clearer and more prominent on pack storage advice if it was highlighted to them.

Richard Swannell, director of design and waste prevention at WRAP, said that food waste was a problem that needed tackling throughout the whole supply chain.

“With 7.2mt of waste occurring in the home, our latest report has investigated consumer awareness around packaging, and how storing food effectively can help reduce that waste,” he said. “By working with companies and industry bodies, we can help consumers to take advantage of recent innovations and keep food fresher for longer.”

Joy Blizzard, the chair Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC), said: “I really welcome this research – Food Waste is such a large proportion of what we have to deal with and anything that helps our residents reduce that waste is very helpful.”

The ‘Fresher for longer’ campaign, has been launched in Marks & Spencer at Tunbridge Wells, but materials can be used by all retailers.

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