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Frozen food can cut waste by almost 50 per cent and save cash

Media centre home > News > Frozen food can cut waste by almost 50 per cent and save cash

Issued:01/07/14

The amount of food wasted by families across Britain could be slashed by almost 50 per cent, equivalent to three million tonnes of household waste per year, through better meal planning and by eating more frozen food, according to research from a leading food industry academic.

On the back of findings released by WRAP (a government-funded organisation which helps people reduce waste) last week, which found that UK households are throwing away a million tonnes of unopened food a year, a ground-breaking paper published by global publisher, Emerald Group Publishing, in the British Food Journal, identifies frozen food as a significant solution to the UK's six million tonne household waste mountain.

The research, written by Dr Wayne Martindale of Sheffield Business School at Sheffield Hallam University, shows that the frozen food generates 47 per cent less food waste compared to ambient and chilled food consumed in the home.

The research also found that households who include more frozen foods in their weekly meal planning could save around £250 per year.

Dr Martindale’s research also discovered that greenhouse gas emissions could also be reduced by 2.4m tonnes a year if households incorporated frozen foods into smarter meal planning.

Dr Martindale said: "These results tell us a great deal about people's lifestyle choices and demonstrate clearly that families can save money and waste by simply incorporating frozen food into their meal planning.

"People are simply less likely to waste frozen foods because it’s easier to control portion size and food obviously lasts longer in the freezer.  With today’s world being busier and more demanding than ever, frozen foods offer an increasingly desirable, practical and nutritious food choice for busy families.”

The Sheffield Hallam University research used consumer research panels in its own purpose-built sensory testing labs to reveal that UK households bin almost twice as much fresh food as they do frozen, with the elderly and people under 25 among those producing the most waste. 

The research project has engaged the frozen food manufacturing industry, working with some of Europe’s biggest food brands such as Iglo Group, parent company of Birds Eye, to gain industry support for the findings.

The findings will be utilised by food manufacturers to design products in a smarter way for meal planning so that the customer experience is improved and waste is reduced.

Wayne Martindale

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Peter Hajipieris, Iglo Group’s Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, added: “We firmly believe our products can help consumers save money and cut waste by vastly increasing the shelf life of foods and giving consumers greater control over portion sizes.

“As well as helping in the home, frozen also makes best use of food that is produced by farmers by preserving it as soon as it is harvested or caught, reducing waste in the food production chain.

“Making the most of food resources has always been of the utmost importance to Iglo Group and we are committed to sustainability at every stage of the food cycle.”

The sample of 83 households was selected from a wider sample of 250 household who take part in food sensory panels. The 83 households were selected to provide a wide range of product choice and age categories.  The research paper compares sample sets and shows that the sample compares well to other national surveys such as the National Diet and Nutrition Survey.

Sheffield Hallam University has recently launched the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University to support the UK’s food and drink manufacturing sector. The University received £6.9million funding from the HEFCE Catalyst Fund to develop and deliver thecentre, which will be completed in 2017. Further information can be found at www.shu.ac.uk/foodeng

Emerald is a global publisher linking research and practice to the benefit of society. The company manages a portfolio of more than 290 journals and over 2,300 books and book series volumes. It also provides an extensive range of value-added products, resources and services to support its customers’ needs.

Emerald is a partner of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and works with Portico and the LOCKSS initiative for digital archive preservation. It also works in close collaboration with a number of organizations and associations worldwide.

For press information: contact Laurie Harvey in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 2621 or email pressoffice@shu.ac.uk