Helping consumers reduce food waste: a retail survey - 2011

Start date:
October 2010
May 2012

A survey of products sold by major UK retailers to inform understanding of a range of factors believed to influence household food waste.


In 2009 Brook Lyndhurst was appointed by WRAP to lead an extensive quantitative assessment of the type and consistency of information and packaging functionality available to consumers on products. The resulting report enabled WRAP and the food industry to identify good practice that could be implemented more widely, and to identify areas where inconsistency or lack of clarity could be addressed. The aim was to improve consumer understanding and confidence around storage of food and thereby reduce food waste.

A second, extended version of this survey was commissioned in 2011, to understand how the retail environment had changed and to evaluate those changes against WRAP’s priorities.


The first step in the process was revision of the 2009 coding frames, to accommodate changes to WRAP’s priorities for the survey, and lessons learned in the course of the 2009 research. The new code framed allowed for capture of further detailed data, through which product category specific and cross-category conclusions could be drawn.

On each product data was collected on, for example:
• Date type, details of date and date of audit;
• Storage guidance;
• Freezing and defrost instructions;
• Pack size, features and format;
• Price and promotions;
• Presence of symbols, e.g. snowflake to indicate freezability; and
• Presence of on pack tips promoting waste avoidance or use of leftovers.

In addition to this, contextual information (where relevant) was recorded.

A data capture interface was developed using Filemaker Go, on iPad tablets. A field work team of eight researchers was trained to conduct the data collection.

The fieldwork process involved:
• Two tranches of fieldwork;
• Reviewing over 12,000 products;
• Across 20 food and drink product categories;
• 9 major retailers;
• 21 store fascias – supermarket, convenience and online; and
• Across five regions and three countries.

The report and a summary report are available for download using the links on the right.

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