Food Waste : UK: Food waste reaches pre-pandemic levels after recorded slump

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Food waste is on the rise again in the UK now that lockdowns are easing up again, a new study claims.

The 2021 Food Waste Trends Survey, conducted by environmental charity WRAP within the context of its citizen campaign Love Food Hate Waste, attributed this change to two factors-namely, the rise in takeaways and eating out coupled with perceived time pressure.

During lockdowns however, four in five people adopted different food management behaviours. These entailed freezing, using up of leftovers and batch cooking.

Said new habits led to a decline in food waste by 43% during the first lockdown, staying below pre-pandemic levels across 2020.

Currently, however, the foregoing of the behaviours detailed previously led to a bounce back of food waste levels to 2018 disposal rates, with rates this past June set at 30%, up from a recorded 20% in April last year.

To reduce the amount of food being unnecessarily wasted, WRAP has developed behaviour change intervention programmes and is currently looking for partners to develop these further. The environmental NGO is also set on getting everyone from retailers and food producers to local authorities and community groups to collaborate on its mission to instil better food management behaviours in in people.

The pandemic saw shortages in food supplies which also led to higher food prices. Yet with people working from or mostly confined to their homes due to a rampant rise in unemployment, cooking practices and food management as a whole received a boost.

Traditionally, periods of high unemployment result in less food waste than periods of decreased unemployment.