It sounds so obvious in principle. At a time when household bills are rising, reducing food waste can help food and weekly budgets go further.
But even as 85% of UK consumers say their food bills have increased, a new study from Hellmann’s and Wrap reveals nearly half (48%) are still throwing away the same amount of food, or more, per week as they were a year ago.
It’s a striking contradiction that raises important questions about what really makes an impact on food waste in the current climate, and how we, as an industry, can better support people to be more resourceful with food.
One thing is clear: nobody sets out with the intention of throwing good food away. When people waste food, it’s often an unintended outcome of not having the time or energy to plan and cook meals after a busy day, or not having the skills or confidence to turn leftovers into meals.
It’s also clear that tackling food waste requires action from everyone across the food chain. Manufacturers like us need to address food waste within our own operations and continually work with retail partners and suppliers to eliminate waste where possible. Alongside that, we need to support shoppers to become more resourceful in food behaviours in their homes.
This is where inspiration comes in. The idea that inspiration has a role to play in helping consumers reduce food waste isn’t new, but it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. When set against the important business of supply chain initiatives and sustainability impacts, talk of inspiration can seem fluffy and insubstantial.
Our research with Wrap shows this impression couldn’t be more wrong.
In our survey, consumers told us they wanted to be more resourceful with their food, but many didn’t know where to start. Thirty-seven per cent didn’t know where to find helpful information on cutting food waste. And while many people continue to enjoy cooking at home, recipe fatigue is real. A fifth (21%) of Brits say the hardest thing about cooking at home is the monotony of making the same recipes on repeat.
The upshot is, people need to feel inspired to waste less – it can’t just be about ‘doing the right thing’. Even the most waste-conscious consumers ultimately still want tasty lunches and dinners. Crucially, reducing food waste needs to feel easy and accessible to drive long-term shifts in behaviour.
We recently used these insights to launch the free Hellmann’s Fridge Night app, which aims to inspire Brits to make their ingredients and money stretch further. Created with Wrap’s behaviour change experts, it provides practical tools and tips to turn leftovers into delicious dishes, including a simple three-plus-one ‘flexipe’ framework for cooking: carbohydrate base, most-wasted vegetables or fruit, a source of protein, plus a ‘magic touch’ in the form of spices or sauce to bring a dish together.
We’re not alone in recognising the importance of inspiration. There’s lots of great work happening across the grocery industry already, and we are constantly inspired by some of the fantastic initiatives being developed by other brands and organisations.
But there is so much more we can – and should – do. The opportunity for brands and retailers to use inspiration to drive positive change around food waste is huge. Indeed, nearly 60% of respondents in our survey said they would like brands to help them be more resourceful with food.
So, let’s give inspiration the recognition it deserves in the fight against food waste. And at this worrying time for consumers, let’s harness the grocery industry’s amazing creativity and ability to show that cutting waste really can be achievable, fun – and surprisingly tasty.