What we can learn from supermarkets to save money

Supermarket advice

Supermarket adviceSupermarkets have always needed to be reactive to customers’ changing needs, because it’s so easy for us to take our custom elsewhere. That’s why we’re seeing the current price war rage around us, and it’s also why supermarkets have often prompted some great food innovations that benefit customers.

One of these is their approach to food waste. The first thing many people think when they hear about the issue of food waste is that it must be the supermarkets’ fault! Surely they create the most waste?

Well, interestingly enough that’s not the case. In fact out of the 15 million tonnes of food and drink wasted in the UK each year 49% is from us as individuals – which costs the average family £50 a month!

As a result I’m often asked by friends and family “Well, what can the supermarkets do to help us to waste less?”

Here are some great examples of what supermarkets and food producers have already done to help us cut food waste in the home. The next step to success is for us to take this advice on board!

How to store fruit

Hands up all of us who keep our fruit in the fruit bowl? Looks lovely doesn’t it? But how often do you end up throwing those apples away at the end of the week because they’ve gone soft and wrinkly? Well, you’re not alone. Approximately 4 million apples a day are thrown away by householders – ring a bell? In fact, keeping fresh fruit (except bananas apparently) in the fridge in a loosely tied bag can give us up to two weeks extra time, keeping them fresher for longer.

As a result the Co-operative, the first supermarket to do this, put storage advice on their bags for loose fruit and veg. Sainsbury’s introduced new storage guidance to customers both in-store and on its website, advising shoppers to store their fruit and vegetables in the fridge to keep them fresher for longer – they then launched their Love Your Leftovers campaign, which helped us all find inspiration for using up leftover food. In 2009 Morrisons launched their Great Taste Less Waste campaign, which included advice on how best to store food to get the most from it.

Bread waste

You thought the apple stat was bad? Around 37 million slices of bread are wasted every day by us usually because we find loaves of bread too big. In response, Warburtons launched a range of smaller loaves in late 2008, and Kingsmill launched the “Little Big Loaf” in 2009. Warburtons also removed “display until” dates from all of their products in 2010, and similarly Hovis introduced new storage guidance in early 2011, removing references to storing bread in the fridge (it makes it go off quicker!)

Baked beans that last longer

Heinz launched an innovative “Fridge Pack” for baked beans in 2010, which could be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days after opening, giving our kids longer to eat it rather than leaving half a tin in the fridge to go off.

Keep salad leaves fresh

And finally I don’t know about you, but salad leaves are always the first thing to go off in the fridge once I’ve opened them! Asda launched a new re-sealable salad bag to keep these fresher for longer.

Anything they can do to help us waste less has got to be a good thing – we just need to pay attention and make sure we read the advice on food packs!

Check out these other tips on how to make your food last longer. You’ll be surprised how much money you can save!

Emma Marsh heads up Love Food Hate Waste, which aims to raise awareness of the issue of food waste and offer simple everyday tips and support to help consumers save money and waste less. Emma is also a keen grower of fruit and veg in her garden and allotment at home.