Worries about waste – especially food

Waste is a growing concern for consumers, with food waste and wasteful packaging cited as leading environmental issues by three-quarters of global respondents. It’s an issue that is close to home for many consumers, with nearly half of global respondents saying they are now worried about the amount of waste their household is producing. This reflects the greater amount of time spent in the home during the pandemic, with more meals and snacks prepared and consumed, and more online shopping and takeaway food deliveries, making the household waste “footprint” more visible now than ever.

Consumers are being more proactive as a result. 46% say they have been making a greater effort to sort things properly (cartons, glass, plastic) for recycling since the pandemic. And 50% say they are likely to increase recycling in the next year as part of their personal contribution to tackling climate change.

Consumer action to reduce food waste is particularly strong. Strikingly, 54% of respondents say they are throwing food away less than before the pandemic – one of the highest figures for a reduced activity in our whole research. That’s partly because consumers are paying more attention to proper storage and expiry dates, cited by exactly half of respondents, so there is less spoilage. But even more (55%) say they are planning meals more carefully in order to limit household food waste, while 40% say they are buying more products in portion sizes for the same reason.

Looking ahead, 81% of consumers expect they will make the same or a greater effort to avoid throwing away food when pandemic restrictions are removed, topping the list of shifted behaviours – with 39% expecting to try harder to avoid food waste going forward, rising higher in emerging markets.

Opportunity – Right-sizing and labelling

There is a need/opportunity for right-/portion-sized products, as well as information on portioning, to help consumers with their meal planning. Clear and simple labelling with expiry dates is also key – especially online, where it is considered deficient. “I can’t easily check the best before date/expiry date” is the number one pain point when purchasing online, according to our e-commerce research.

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