A new study shows that the average UK household is throwing away the equivalent of six meals a week at an estimated cost of £60 a month for each family.
The Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP) concludes that food waste is costing the UK £12.5 billion a year despite considerable progress in cutting the amount of food wasted.
The report found that since 2007, food waste has been cut by 21 per cent, saving consumers almost £13 billion.
The reason for the reduction is that consumers are learning to buy the right amounts and store food properly to increase the length it lasts and to make more use of leftovers.
WRAP said that the increase in food costs and the pressure on household income was also a factor in reducing waste.
However, 4.2 million tonnes of food is still thrown away each year and almost half of this amount goes straight from the supermarket shelves to the bin without even being opened.
The top three foods to be thrown away are bread, potatoes and milk. 24 million slices of bread are thrown away every day along with 5.8 million potatoes and 5.9 million glasses of milk. Chickens also make the top 10, with the equivalent of 86 million chickens thrown away every year.
WRAP found that supermarket promotions such as buy one – get one free, encourage consumers to buy too much food in the first place. Other reasons for the food waste are over-estimating portions and a lack of clarity around storage and labelling.
The organisation suggested that people need to understand the difference between use by and best before dates.
Dr Liz Goodwin, WRAP Chief Executive Officer, said: "Consumers are seriously worried about the cost of food and how it has increased over recent years. Yet as WRAP’s research shows, we are still wasting millions of tonnes and billions of pounds.
"The UK is leading the way in tackling food waste and the 21% cut is a terrific achievement by millions of people who have taken action, saved money and helped safeguard our natural resources.”
WRAP has targeted further savings of £45 billion by 2025.
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