Food Waste: Don’t Blame It On the Specials
The intended consequence of promotional offers is increased sales. The unintended consequence is increased waste caused by retailers, or so many perceive. However, according to a study by the U.K.’s Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), that perception is not actually true.
Endorsing the report, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said "the debate about food waste should focus on helping households reduce the amount they throw away rather than blaming retailer practices," according to The Associated Press. BRC’s head of environment, Bob Gordon, praised the research and highlighted the fact that few people actually admit to wasting food themselves while believing that others do. He defended retailers, emphasizing the role they have played in reducing the amount of food wasted while admitting there is more to do.
Of the 1,800 adults surveyed, some 44 percent believed "buying food on offer leads to a greater amount being thrown away." Asked about their own behavior, though, only four percent admitted to wasting food bought while it was on offer.
Mr. Gordon claimed that the 30 percent of food purchased that is actually wasted could be further reduced through "educating people to shop smarter and do better at managing the storage and use of food … rather than blaming promotions." Explaining that promotions exist because they are "highly valued by customers," he stressed that competition plays an important part in keeping costs down.
According to WRAP’s survey, buy one, get one free (BOGO) offers comprise "less than two percent of all products bought" with straightforward price reductions representing the majority of promotions.
Established as a not-for-profit organization, WRAP is publicly funded. Its website explains its ambition "to help businesses and individuals reap the benefits of reducing waste, develop sustainable products and use resources in an efficient way." The BRC points to figures recently published by WRAP showing a 13 per cent decrease in household food waste over the past three years.
Meanwhile, American environmental action group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), has just published a guide explaining how much is wasted in the U.S. and what it costs along with suggestions on how to change things.
- Offers "not behind food waste" – The Press Association/Google
- BOGOFS Don’t Cause Food Waste – British Retail Consortium
- Your Scraps Add Up: Reducing food waste can save money and resources – National Resources Defense Council
Discussion Questions: Do promotions lead to food waste? Is it the responsibility of retailers to teach consumers about reducing waste? Is this a role, if undertaken by retailers, that consumers would appreciate?