Four human behaviours key to reducing food waste

Scraping food into bin

Sainsbury's has identified four key behaviours that are driving household food waste, with awareness, role models, societal shifts and disconnections between knowledge and behaviour all playing a part.

The supermarket chain's report is part of its £10 million Waste Less, Save More campaign, which also includes the distribution of 1 million free fridge thermometers.

According to the study of 5,000 people, shoppers are lacking awareness when it comes to how they could save food from the bin and money from the till. The biggie here is that the majority of us estimate that ten per cent of their monthly food budget will go in the wheelie bin as avoidable food waste, equating to £400 per year – which is way off the true figure of £700 for the average family.

Furthermore, 70 per cent of us don't believe writing a shopping list could save money, yet those who do so save £145 on food annually.

There's also a gap between what we think we know and what we actually do. Notably, 95 per cent of people say they are confident in freezing food and 74 per cent in cooking meals from leftovers, but 37 per cent of respondents don't actually use up their surplus meals. According to Sainsbury's, those who do save £260 per year.

The supermarket contrasts this with data showing that people are keen to save money elsewhere at home, for example 74 per cent turn off lights when they leave a room to save just £15 per year.

A lack of role models is playing a part too, the report finds, with 40 per cent of people stating they don't know who to look to for advice on saving food. Some 47 per cent of respondents aged 18 to 24 reckoned they lack knowledge in the kitchen – suggesting, says Sainsbury's, there's a need for inspiration from cookery stars.

The fourth 'bin-fluence' (nice pun from Sainsbury's, there) is society, and a greater freedom to experiment with food. But this has resulted in 86 per cent of us admitting to buying ingredients for a specific recipe and not expecting to use any leftovers in other dishes.

The study also found that just three per cent of people feel there is a social stigma attached to wasting food, despite the issue growing in recognition.

Keep an eye out for Sainsbury's first Waste Less, Save More advertising campaign, intended to help us save food.

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