WRAP shines a light on the UK’s food waste habits, in and out of the home, during Food Waste Action Week

9 March 2023


To coincide with Food Waste Action Week, which runs until Sunday, WRAP is highlighting two recent reports which look at citizen food waste in and out of the home, respectively.

To coincide with Food Waste Action Week, which runs until Sunday, WRAP is highlighting two recent reports which look at citizen food waste in and out of the home, respectively.

  1. UK Household Food Waste Tracking Survey 2022: Behaviours, attitudes, and awareness during a cost-of-living crisis

Published tomorrow - WRAP has gathered evidence through surveys during 2022 as part of the largest and longest running report into household food waste of its kind, begun in 2007.

The latest results cover the ‘new normal’ period when the UK adjusted after Covid-19 restrictions ended, followed immediately by an evolving cost of living crisis.

Key findings on the rising cost of living and concerns about food

  • WRAP research recorded the immediate impact of the cost of living on concerns about food. The proportion of citizens that cite food prices as a ‘top five’ concern rose sharply, from 52% in November 2021 to 74% in November 2022.
  • The number of citizens concerned about being able to buy enough food also increased in 2022, from less than one in five (18%) to one in four (25%) citizens over the year to November 2022.
  • People are making widespread changes to their food habits to mitigate rising living costs. In November 2022, seven in ten (71%) reported changes to how they buy, store, manage or use food because of the rising cost of living, up from 65% in June.
  • 21% of people said that they have used leftovers as a response to the cost-of-living crisis and of those, 88% said that by doing this it helped them to save money and 62% said it helped them to save time.

Key findings on self-reported food waste

  • Despite rising concerns about the cost-of-living crisis and the number of behaviour changes citizens are taking, there has not – so far at least – been the sharp fall in food waste that happened during the first Covid-19 lockdown.
  • In fact, in 2022, the reported level of food waste continued its shallow upward trend that started in the pandemic recovery period, reaching 22.6% of four key products in September before falling back to 20.5% in November. It is too soon to say whether the decline in estimated food waste between September and November will be sustained, but the scale of behaviour changes captured in November 2022 suggests it is possible.

*It's worth noting, while not included in this report, further research undertaken by WRAP in January and March 2023 found that despite food waste declining in January, this was not sustained in March, with food waste rising once again.

Help combat household food waste

WRAP’s research-based Love Food Hate Waste campaigns has more information about reducing food waste in the home.

  1. Citizen Food Waste Attitudes and Behaviours Out of Home report

This new report, published 23 February 2023, highlights valuable opportunities for the Hospitality and Food Service sector to reduce the amount of food left on customers plates, but still offer value for money for diners.

WRAP’s report provides new insights into customer behaviours and attitudes to food waste when dining out.

It found that on average, people today eat out 5.2 times per month - down from 5.6 times in March 2020, immediately before lockdown. Cost of living is the main reason for the decline, impacting on both how often we eat out and what we order.

Crucially, despite eating out less, we are seemingly wasting more food when we do eat out compared to two years ago.

Key findings

  • Portion size is the main reason for plate waste when we eat out.
  • Almost half (48%) of people say portion size is the main reason they leave food when eating out - with on average almost 15% of main courses left uneaten.
  • Despite cost-of-living meaning we are now eating out less than pre-lockdown, food left on plates has increased since 2020.

More information can be found in the full press release here – which was only run by trade press: Citizen food waste attitudes and behaviours out of home | WRAP

Through its award-winning Guardians of Grub campaign, WRAP has developed simple steps that the industry can take to protect their profits by reducing food waste.

Food Waste Action Week

WRAP’s citizen-facing brand, Love Food Hate Waste is currently running Food Waste Action Week focusing on the theme of ‘Win. Don’t Bin. The campaign will run until Sunday 12th March 2023. 

Food Waste Action Week urges people to make their food go further by demonstrating how making the most of the food they buy, and using up all of their leftovers, saves time and money.

More information can be found in the full press release: UK households could get 2.5 days a year back by making the most of the food that they buy

Notes to Editor

  • WRAP is a climate action NGO working around the globe to tackle the causes of the climate crisis and give the planet a sustainable future. Our vision is a thriving world in which climate change is no longer a problem. We believe that our natural resources should not be wasted and that everything we use should be re-used and recycled. We bring together and work with governments, businesses and individuals to ensure that the world’s natural resources are used more sustainably. Our core purpose is to help tackle climate change and protect our planet by changing the way things are produced, consumed and disposed of. Our work includes: UK Plastics Pact, Courtauld Commitment 2030, Textiles 2030 and the citizen campaigns Love Food Hate Waste, Clear on Plastics and Recycle Now. We run Food Waste Action Week and Recycle Week.
  • Love Food Hate Waste aims to raise awareness of the need to reduce food waste and help the UK public act. It shows that by doing some easy practical everyday things in the home we can all waste less food, which will ultimately benefit the environment, and our pockets too. Love Food Hate Waste is managed by WRAP.  
  • Guardians of Grub is WRAP's food waste reduction campaign to tackle the £3.2 billion of food thrown away at hospitality and food service outlets. It is aimed at empowering professionals from across the hospitality and food service sector to reduce the amount of food thrown away in their businesses. A suite of free operational resources is available that businesses can use to tackle food waste, including how-to guides and a free food waste calculator. The campaign resources help supporting bodies, trade associations and other influencers in the sector embed good business practice. Leaders in the sector have already pledged their support, including the British Beer and Pub Association and UK Hospitality. The recent Ambassadors roundtable demonstrates the need for accelerating the pace of change to protect profit and the planet.
  • Contact: Frances Armitage, Senior Media Relations Specialist: frances.armitage@wrap.org.uk  for more information and interview requests with WRAP spokespeople.