Around 10 million tonnes of food waste is generated post-farm gate every year in the UK and around 70% of this comes from households. Fresh fruit and vegetables account for a third of all household food thrown away that could have been eaten (1.6 million tonnes; £3.8 billion). Almost half of the fresh fruit and vegetables are discarded due to not being eaten in time.

WRAP works with Governments, food businesses and a wide range of other partners to help to reduce this waste by enabling citizens to buy what they need and use what they buy. In 2017, WRAP, Defra and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) published guidance for food businesses on Food date labelling and storage advice, which contains recommendations relating to different aspects of pack design and labelling, aimed at helping reduce the amount of food that is wasted. There are also significant impacts relating to food packaging; particularly plastics.

One of the targets for the UK Plastics Pact is to eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use packaging items, and in 2018 WRAP published an evidence review of plastic packaging and fresh produce. Published in 2018, the Defra Resources and Waste Strategy stated that there would be a review of the recommendation for most pre-packed uncut fresh produce to carry a ‘Best Before’ date. Government’s expectation is that before the review, industry will provide evidence about changes to fresh produce date labelling (including the removal of ‘Best Before’ advice), both in store and at home, as a move towards a consistent approach across the sector’; and ‘The 25 Year Environment Plan sets out our commitment to work with retailers and WRAP to explore introducing plastic-free supermarket aisles in which all the food is sold loose. Aisles such as these are popular with some shoppers – but it is also the case that packaging protects and extends the shelf life of many items. Nonetheless, we believe a balance can be struck which respects both the desire to cut packaging, and the desire to cut food waste.

WRAP is consulting on a new technical report on the evidence for providing fresh produce loose without significantly increasing food waste. This report will inform future published guidance and is intended to be used alongside retailers’ plans to reduce plastic’ Over the last two years WRAP has worked through a Courtauld Commitment 2025 (C2025) Fresh Produce Task Force representing major retailers, fresh produce suppliers and sector trade bodies to gather expert opinion and evidence to inform a review of the date labelling recommendation. Since the publication in November 2018 of the evidence review of plastic packaging and fresh produce, WRAP has also obtained results from a pilot undertaken by a major retailer, received feedback from businesses on the review and gathered new consumer insights, all of which have been discussed with the Task Force. 04 Evidence and Insights Informing Updated Guidance Aimed at Reducing Fresh Produce Waste and Plastic Packaging MR205 Version 3.0 This document is uncontrolled if printed.

This note summarises the evidence and insights to inform the decision to update the guidance to industry on fresh uncut fruit and vegetables, specifically around the provision of loose vs. pre-packed and date labelling where fresh produce is sold in packaging.

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  • Evidence informing guidance on fresh produce

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