A recent survey of brands and retailers found that a quarter of all pre-packed unprepared fresh produce now carried no date label, while the available shelf life of other products – such as milk – had increased. Three retailers had removed ‘best before’ on some fresh produce, with another committing to remove them from selected produce.
However, there were many areas the required improvement identified by the organisation.
Packs of cheese still carried advice to consume the product within five to seven days, despite the average available life for a block of cheddar being 64 days.
The cost of smaller pack sizes
While WRAP did find some instances of good availability of smaller packs sizes – most notably for meat and dairy items – it took issue with the cost of small packs of bread, which were on average 74% more expensive per kg than larger loaves.
Peter Maddox, director at WRAP, said: “The way food and drink is packaged, labelled and priced can influence household food waste, and retailers and brands are uniquely placed to help minimise food waste in the home.
“Our research shows that people want clear, consistent information on-pack to help them keep food fresher for longer. Overall, we’ve seen good progress from all, but we have also been very clear with each company where more work is required and where they are falling short.”
To support its continued fight against food waste, WRAP has updated its guidance on applying date labels and packaging choices for fresh produce.
“Removal of packaging must be done carefully to avoid food waste, and we now have a clear set of principles that will help limit plastic use, and ensure removal is done in a safe and sustainable way,” Maddox added.
“The other significant development we recommend is removing ‘best before’ dates from uncut fresh produce where this doesn’t risk increasing food waste, and the guidance helps this decision-making. We see this being particularly useful for commonly wasted items like potatoes.”
Meanwhile, Nestlé and PepsiCo have responded to claims in a recent report that they were the biggest contributors to plastic environmental waste in 2019, with Unilever and Mondelēz International also making the top ten.