Food is Food Blog

Food Waste Research in Britain- from the archives

Another informative food waste paper from the archives.

Wenlock et al., (1980) undertook a study of food wastage in British households. This two season (summer and winter) study of 330-340 households asked households to segregate food wastes, for one week, by different food types in containers provided by the researchers. The calorific value (focus) and weight of food waste was measured.

The measurement of food was waste as a function of calories was used because it could be compared against the average calorie requirements of inhabitants and the total amount of calories available (i.e. based on estimates of total available domestic and imported food stuffs). Also it was much easier to use this approach than have householders estimate the weight of food they bought and brought into the household for consumption each week.

Significantly more food waste was collected in the summer compared to the winter. They found that on average 5.4% in the winter and 6.5% in the summer of energy intake was lost as food waste. In the summer households threw out 0.74kg/week of edible food waste while in winter this was 0.59kg/week (this is considerably lower than some current estimates). In terms of calories cereals, fat and meats were the largest proportion of food waste while for weight milk was more important and fat less so.

Larger households generated more food waste although per capita food waste generation was less than smaller households. Households weith more adults generated more waste than those with more children. The amount of food waste generated by households with children decreased inversely to the number of children in the household (i.e. the first child generated the most food waste and thereafter per child food waste generation decreased). There was little impact noted due to household income or geography.

Some of the conclusions included: 1. The study likely underestimates the amount of food waste generated due to issues with self reporting; 2. Twenty -30% of food waste in households with pets was fed to pets; 3. Larger households waste more food in terms of waste but less so in proportion to their calorific intake; and 4. Larger families with more children generate less food waste than those with more adults.

Wenlock, R. W., Buss, D. H., Derry, B. J., & Dixon, E. J. (1980). Household food wastage in Britain. British Journal of Nutrition, 43(01), 53-70.

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