Choose what you’ll use, to reduce food waste in our homes

21 March 2024

Spending £1000 on food which will end up in the bin is probably not a resolution for 2024, but latest WRAP research shows that the average UK household of four throws away food worth this eye watering sum, each year.

Shockingly, this year, each UK adult will chuck away an amount of food equivalent to their own body weight as food waste in our homes continues to be the biggest contributor to food waste, from farm to fork. Of the total 10.7 million tonnes of food wasted in the UK each year, 6.4 million tonnes are thrown away in our homes - 4.7 million tonnes of which is good food that could have been eaten. Household food waste also generates 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, equalling 3% of the UK’s total carbon footprint. This is a huge blow for both UK pockets and the planet.

What’s fruit and veg got to do with it?

The most wasted food type in the UK is fruit and vegetables, with potatoes coming in at number one – 2.9 million whole potatoes a day. Due to the perishable nature of fresh fruit and veg, it can be difficult to use the amount we buy in time, as they often go off before we have had chance to use them - so we end up throwing items away.  It’s, therefore, vital that we can buy close to the amount we need.  In fact, selling all apples, bananas and potatoes loose could save 60,000 tonnes of food being chucked in our homes and 8,800 tonnes of plastic packaging per year.

Time for action!

We want people to have an alternative to that 2.5 kilo bag of potatoes when they only want a few, or the bunch of five bananas when only one person eats them. We have established a three-pronged programme to remove more unnecessary packaging from the fresh produce aisles and reduce food waste, through action to support People, Partners and Policy.


Our fourth, annual Food Waste Action Week will run from 18th – 24th March. As the UK’s largest food waste prevention campaign, it aims to cut household food waste, reduce shopping bills and save the planet.

This year’s theme, ‘Choose What You’ll Use,’ will highlight the myriad benefits of buying loose fruit and veg. The campaign will work with key partners, including governments, local authorities, manufacturers, brands and retailers, and the hospitality and food service sector to amplify its messages and reach as many people as possible.

We are delighted that Tesco has been confirmed as our first sponsor of 2024’s Food Waste Action Week.


WRAP recommendations to retailers are to sell a range of fresh uncut produce loose wherever possible and to remove Best Before dates from these items, however they are sold. We also advise retailers to promote the benefits of keeping all fruit and veg (except bananas, whole onions and whole pineapple) in the fridge, at home to keep it fresher for longer. 

Many retailers in the UK are making great strides in this area and we are seeing more and more trials in this space which support the ambitions of loose fresh produce becoming ‘the norm’.

Waitrose are running loose fruit and veg trials in March to understand how signage and customer communications affect purchase behaviour of loose items. This forms part of Waitrose's wider strategy and pledge to move to more loose fresh produce, helping to reduce unnecessary packaging, while honouring its commitment to help combat household food waste, with over 100 lines now packaging free.

This is a move we love to see: not only does selling more fruit and veg loose eliminate some problematic single use plastic, it also helps customers buy closer to their needs. Win-win for everyone, except the bin.


While no changes in the law surrounding plastic packaging for fruit and veg in the UK have been announced to date, we are looking at understanding more and this work includes a review of what policies currently operate in Europe and around the world and their impact. At an industry working group in March, learnings from this review will be shared and various policy mechanisms discussed.

WRAP believes that this approach of encompassing People, Partners and Policy to reduce food waste in our homes and remove unnecessary packaging will help the industry move forward collaboratively, to achieve the scale of change needed. We are excited to continue this journey.