Brits throw away 42% of the food they buy – but how can they cut down?

Britons are throwing away £2,675 in rotten food every year because they don’t know it needs to go in the fridge, research reveals

  • Research found Britons chuck an estimated £2,675 of food in the bin each year 
  • Two fifths of food Brits buy is thrown away, with ready meals one worst offenders
  • One way to reduce food waste is to organise fridges to make food last longer 
  • Vegetables should be placed in separate drawers to stop them going soggy 

Britons throw out 42 per cent of the food they buy each year – meaning £2,675 worth just goes in the bin, researchers have revealed.  

The main cause of food wastage is thought to be because people don’t know how they should be storing their shopping, according to researchers working with Samsung.

Figures revealed the UK is conflicted over where to store common kitchen staples – in the fridge or on the counter – and amid fears of possible panic buying during the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic it is particularly important to ensure food stays fresher for longer. 

In a study of 20,000 people across 11 countries Switzerland wasted the most, closely followed by Norway, Italy and France. 

Of the food purchased by Brits, 42 per cent is thrown away, equating to £2,675 of food in the bin each year. Pictured: Fruit and vegetables stored correctly in the fridge

In the UK, fruits proved to be a large proportion of waste, as 55 per cent of people stored pears incorrectly, 65 per cent stored apples in the wrong place and 66 per cent didn’t put oranges away properly. 

Eggs are another issue, as 37 per cent are left on the counter when they would be preserved for longer in the fridge. 

The data also showed 52 per cent of fresh herbs, 46 per cent of ready meals and 45 per cent of sauces/condiments went to waste.

Surprisingly, expensive convenience items such as ready meals and products that are largely designed to kept in the freezer, were being stored in the fridge. It meant items were taking up valuable space but then thrown away.

And ketchup often goes out of date because people are divided over where to store it, with half keeping it out of the fridge. While it can be stored in the cupboard after the initial grocery shop, once opened the experts at Samsung suggest ketchup should be chilled. 

New research found people may be getting rid of many foods because they are unaware of how best to store their shopping. Pictured: Fruit and vegetables rot after being stored on the counter

Using drawers that have adjustable settings can stop fresh fruit and vegetables from going soggy, experts revealed

Sauces and condiments blocking visibility in fridges were also found to lead to people making duplicate purchases. 

In considering how to avoid waste, almost half think a better food organisation system would help them reduce their food waste and three in five think their food would last longer if they stored it correctly. 

The data also found some of the most common reasons for household food waste are forgetting items are in the fridge, not checking expiration dates and not planning meals ahead of shopping. 

Nick Bevan, Head of Product Management at Samsung, said: ‘A forgotten vegetable at the bottom of the fridge drawer is a common sight in our homes, yet a few small changes could make this a thing of the past.

‘Simply knowing where food items belong and re-organising our fridges are small things that can help tackle the big problem of food waste in the UK. 

Researchers for Samsung developed a series of tips to help people stretch out the life of their popular weekly shopping list items

‘Consider how best to use the space in your fridge and what features you can make the most of to keep your food lasting fresh for longer. 

While two thirds of Brits feel guilty for the amount they waste and 51 per cent are more aware of their food waste due to lockdown restrictions, only 56 per cent have a plan in place to help tackle the issue at home. 

How to optimise your fridge storage to keep your shopping fresher for longer – and save you money

In a bid to combat food waste and educate consumers on how to increase the shelf life of their fridge items, Samsung created a series of tips on how to organise a fridge.

1. Tailor your fridge shelves to your needs to put an end to the one tall bottle or a container of leftovers that won’t quite fit as you’d like

2. Make sure you know where your fruit and vegetables should be stored – some foods such as avocados, peaches and melon should be stored out of the fridge before they ripen, but put into the fridge once they’re ripe to prevent wastage

3. To maintain an even temperature inside your fridge, look for models that include No Frost technology – keeping food stay fresher for longer but also preventing ice-build up

4. Remember humidity is just as important as temperature.  If possible, look to use drawers that have adjustable settings – stopping fresh fruit and vegetables from going soggy

5. Always store raw meat, poultry and fish on the lower shelf of the refrigerator and keep it wrapped up to prevent food smells from spreading and any juices from dripping onto other foods

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