CFA welcomes clearer classification of food waste (2 February 2009)

The Chilled Food Association (CFA) has welcomed a recent WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) decision to change the way domestic food waste is categorised in their calculations. Accepting that their current terminology is confusing WRAP have now agreed that their “ready meal” category should be split so that waste from “store bought” ready meals is kept separate from waste from “take-aways”.

CFA had criticised WRAP for persistently linking ready meal manufacturers and take- away restaurants when it comes to food waste because it is misleading and damages the perception of ready meals. In its “The Food We Waste” Report, published last summer, WRAP set out domestic food waste as divided into different categories and claimed that 440,000 ‘ready-made meals’ were thrown away by consumers. CFA disputed these figures and pressed for WRAP to change its definition arguing that most of the wastage identified relates to take-aways and not store-bought meals.

Kaarin Goodburn, CFA Secretary General said, “WRAP didn’t understand the impact that their misleading terminology and figures would have on the perception of the sector. In addition, the numbers simply didn’t add up. Estimated waste levels were extremely high compared to the market data. WRAP have since indicated a more realistic estimate of waste from these categories. Of the total 215,000 tonnes, around 81,000 tonnes represents waste from store-bought ready-meals and 88,000 tonnes from take-aways. The remainder is considered impossible to determine. We, therefore, welcome the decision by WRAP to change their terminology which we believe will ultimately lead to more accurate information and improvements in minimising food waste.”

CFA and individual members have been active in waste minimisation for many years, often playing a leading role in the development of research priorities and progressive industry and Government policy. For example, the Defra Food Industry Sustainability Strategy (FISS) Champions Group on Waste was chaired by CFA Member Dr Gus Atri of Northern Foods, and Kaarin Goodburn was a member of the Group.

CFA is actively involved in a range of waste minimisation initiatives including:

  • £750k SUSSLE (Sustainable Shelf Life Extension) research programme to better understand and explore the extension of the shelf life of chilled foods by using tailored reduced energy heat processes, enhancing quality without compromising safety;
  • funding research at Sheffield Hallam University comparing energy usage and waste arising from domestic vs industrial production of lasagne;
  • Defra-funded projects at the Open University investigating attitudes towards organic waste-derived materials, and at Cranfield/IGD on the impact of trade relationships on waste;
  • Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) projects on the usage of waste in agriculture – CFA’s aim being to ensure that appropriate technical standards are in place to prevent the safety of crops being compromised.