The removal of multi-buy promotions won’t solve the food waste problem, argues Andrew Copson, managing director at packaging manufacturer Sharpak
There has been much debate surrounding recent local government calculations, which suggest households are wasting £520 every year on food that is never eaten.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has laid the blame at the door of supermarkets, claiming aggressive promotions on perishable goods such as soft fruit and vegetables and meat where shelf life is critical, encourages shoppers to buy more than they need or can physically eat within the healthy lifetime of the product.
With more than five million tonnes of edible food thrown away each year it would seem too much waste food is being brought into homes. But the LGA’s call for retailers to ditch multibuy promotions to reduce the UK’s levels of food waste seems to discount the harsh economic environment the consumer faces.
Forty per cent of groceries going through tills at the moment are on special offer or promotion, and one can be sympathetic with the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) view it remains important for retailers to continue to offer customers value in these tough times.
The supply chain must look at viable alternative strategies to reducing food waste, rather than simply decrying multibuy promotions.
Packaging has always played a vital role in the protection of goods in the supply chain – but has been increasingly focused on presenting technologies which aid preservation of food quality, whether that be through modified atmosphere packaging, or designs which improve air flow and helps the product stay fresh for as long as possible.
There is still a lot of work to be done, but I would strongly suggest developments in food packaging, and other sensible solutions to the food waste issue, such as more clarity over date labelling, are a logical way forward.
The removal of food promotions is not the panacea to the food mountain issue, surely part of the answer is not to reduce the amount of food consumers buy, but to employ packaging solutions that keep food fresh for longer.