Britain declares war on food waste

A A A

The Government is to launch a campaign to stamp out Britain's waste food mountains as part of a global effort to curb spiralling food prices.

Supermarkets will be urged to drop "three for two" deals on food that encourage shoppers into bulk-buying more than they need, often leading to the surpluses being thrown away. The scandal of the vast mountains of food that are thrown away in Britain while other parts of the world starve is revealed in a Cabinet Office report today. It calls for a reduction in food waste: up to 40 per cent of groceries can be lost before they are consumed due to poor processing, storage and transport.

The report says UK households could save an average of £420 per year by not throwing away 4.1 million tonnes of food that could have been eaten.

Gordon Brown said he would make action to tackle the soaring cost of food a priority at the G8 summit starting today in Japan. "If we are to get food prices down, we must do more to deal with unnecessary demand, such as by all of us doing more to cut our food waste which is costing the average household in Britain around £8 per week," he told journalists on board the plane to the summit.

Mr Brown's determination to act follows The Independent's campaign to reduce waste through excessive packaging of food in supermarkets. The Government is to launch a major offensive to encourage supermarkets, restaurants, schools and all public sector bodies as well as householders to try to cut down dramatically on the amount of food they throw away.

The key findings of the 10-month review are that:

*Global food prices have risen significantly in recent years due to a combination of poor harvests in some exporting countries; higher costs for energy, fertiliser and transport; the diversion of some commodities to biofuel; and a long-term rise in demand for grain to feed a growing global population;

*The average UK household now devotes about 9 per cent of its expenditure to food, down from 16 per cent in 1984. But the poorest 10 per cent of households in the UK saw 15 per cent of their expenditure go on food in 2005-06; the richest 10 per cent just 7 per cent. And low-income households also spend proportionately more on staples such as milk, eggs and bread – products that have seen some of the biggest price rises in recent months;

*The increase in global food prices has hit developing countries the hardest, with food accounting for 50 to 80 per cent of household expenditure of the poorest. Price rises have contributed to social unrest in a number of countries.

At his first G8 summit as Prime Minister, Mr Brown will argue that the world's richest nations must do more to tackle the food price crisis. He will urge them to halt the decline in funding for agricultural projects in Africa, so the continent can boost farm production by 6 per cent a year.

He will call for a rethink over the use of biofuels so they are used more selectively. A separate study to be published by the Department for Transport today will admit they have contributed to the rise in food prices because land has been switched from food production to plant-derived alternatives to petrol and diesel.

Mr Brown hopes the G8 leaders can unblock the stalled world trade talks, which could collapse in the next few weeks.

The Cabinet Office study concludes that urgent action is needed on the supply of and demand for food. "The solution lies in raising the potential of food production in the developing world," it says. "If yields in Africa and elsewhere reached their potential, global food output would be much higher, far fewer people would go hungry and social instability around the world would decrease."

Oxfam accused G8 leaders of an "inadequate and hypocritical" response to the food crisis. Phil Bloomer, its spokesman, said: "World leaders ... must reiterate their promises to increase aid ... and make the necessary reforms including increasing investment in agriculture in poor countries."

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

£21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee