COVID-19 rules could cause surge in Christmas food waste

23rd December 2020

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  • England ,
  • Sustainability ,
  • Waste


Neil Menzies

Last-minute cancellations of family celebrations, transport bans from the continent, and the closure of hospitality venues in the UK due to new COVID-19 rules could lead to a surge in food waste this Christmas.

The warning comes from consultancy firm IBM, which published research yesterday revealing that up to 77% of British shoppers are now concerned about their food waste.

A whopping £19bn of food is wasted in the UK annually, and it's feared that COVID-19 restrictions could lead to an increase at Christmas, which is already one of the most wasteful periods of the year.

“Many consumers that have already purchased or ordered food to celebrate Christmas may find that they now have too much on their hands, while logistics challenges could delay the delivery of perishable items,“ warned Julian Burnett, UK distribution leader at IBM.

The latest research involved a survey of almost 1,000 British adults, which also found that 81% would be willing to shop at a supermarket with initiatives to reduce food waste.

With over 87% celebrating Christmas in a religious or cultural capacity, there was a 7% increase in consumers reporting that environmental sustainability is a large factor when it comes to purchasing their festive food, in comparison to last year.

Significantly, 45% of consumers said they would consider changing their Christmas dinner ingredients to more sustainable options, compared to 31% who wouldn't.

The research also found that high prices are still the greatest barrier stopping UK consumers from eating more responsibly-sourced food.

Only 6% of respondents were willing to spend more than 15% more on sustainable food, with 41% willing to spend less than 5% more than their average supermarket trip.

Fair Trade is still the most selected label that would make UK consumers more likely to purchase a food item in a grocery store.

“More sustainable shopping choices and a desire to eliminate food waste are growing considerations for British shoppers,“ Burnett continued. “But even those that had taken steps to reduce consumption may now find themselves unintentionally contributing to an increase of uneaten produce.“

Image credit: iStock


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