Exclusive: £1bn - the cost of food we buy to throw away

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MORE THAN £1.1bn is being spent on food that is then being wasted by households in Yorkshire, much of which has never been opened, shock figures have revealed.

Why ugly fruit needs a little love

Philip Davies MP

Philip Davies MP

Recipes: Don’t throw away those leftovers

Staggering amounts of bagged salads, breads, potatoes, fruit and veg and other items are being thrown away across the region it is revealed as calls were made last night for customers and those in the industry to change their habits and cut the amount of food being binned.

In the UK we throw away seven million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year - and experts say much is still edible.

A nationwide survey obtained by the Yorkshire Post shows on average families estimated they were wasting £518.44 a month, which when multiplied by the 2.2m households in the region indicates over £1.1bn a year is being bought but thrown away. In York it was £606.84 a month, in Sheffield £536.12 and in Leeds £455.

It also found 46 per cent of people in the region admit to cooking too much food and end up throwing it away. Last night Anna Simpson, environment policy advisor for the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), called for more awareness on the issue and a relaxation in retailer’s desires to see perfect fruit and veg on their shelves.

She said crops could often be rejected and wasted because they were classed as being “ugly” because they were the wrong shape or colour.

“At the minute the supermarkets say its not what their customers want but at the minute they are not really given the option.

“If they are not the right size or the right colour the supermarket does not want them,” she added.

WRAP, which is backed by Government funding and campaigns to reduce waste, says 50 per cent of the food that ends up in the bin because it has not been used before the dates on its packaging has not been touched.

The survey, obtained by The Yorkshire Post, carried out by Samsung Digital Appliances and supported by the Love Food Hate Waste campaign also found 49 per cent of people in the region threw away food unnecessarily because they were confused about “best before” dates.

The European Union has indicated it is looking at scrapping ‘best before’ labels on some products such as coffee, rice and dry pasta amid concerns people are not using common sense and binning food that is still edible but critics have questioned whether this would stop food waste.

Philip Davies, Shipley MP and vice chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Retail Group said: “I do not think that there’s any guarantee that if we do away with best before dates that people will keep everything.”

A spokesman for the British Retail Consortium said: “Retailers think food waste is probably one of the biggest environmental issues that they deal with. It’s a massive issue for them.”

He said retailers sold misshapen fruit and veg in value ranges and used them to prepare ready meals and other goods.