According to the latest UK Food Trends survey conducted by WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign, self-reported food waste levels now stand at 19.7%. This brings it line with levels seen in 2018, but below the 24.1% recorded in November 2019.
In April 2020, prompted by concerns of food shortages and going out shopping, WRAP reported that this fell to 13.7%.
The survey provides a “snapshot” of food waste behaviours in the UK, and is the first to be conducted in 2021, undertaken as the UK began to lift covid-19 restrictions.
However, the charity says that since restrictions have been lifted, these behaviours are now being dropped as life returns to normal.
The survey put the rebound in food waste levels down to two main factors.
Firstly, people are becoming “time poor” and less likely to batch cook meals and freeze food as time pressures return.
Secondly, more people are eating out or buying takeaways meaning the food people intended to eat at home is replaced and can end up going to waste.
Love Food Hate Waste found a significant spike in the number of meals delivered or eaten outside the home corresponding with people reporting wasting more food.
On average, WRAP said that people had 7.6 takeaways or out-of-home meals in the past month, compared to 6 in September 2020.
Sarah Clayton, head of citizen behaviour change WRAP: “One of the few positives of this extraordinary time has been people taking up new habits that prevent food from going to waste. We’ve seen more people getting creative with their cooking; using up ingredients and leftovers.
“More of us have taken to checking cupboards and fridges before we shop, using our freezers and even batch cooking. And people tell us they have found these habits extremely helpful. But the return of busy lifestyles means we are falling back into our old ways”.