Battling The Rise of UK Food Wastage

Battling The Rise of UK Food Wastage.

The print industry is emerging new innovative ideas and technologies, partnering with campaigners, food manufacturers and technologists to provide smarter labels and a new labelling campaign, backed by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

Whilst these new ideas are helping to support sustainability and reduce wastage of foods. They also add to an array of information a consumer already has in front of them on a product. Therefore, they must be clear, easy to follow and eye-catching for a consumer to noticed and action these labels.

‘Sniff test’ Scheme:

The first initiative consumers will start to see appear throughout 2021, is the ‘sniff test’ campaign label. The brain child of a food wastage app Too Good to Go, that aims to get consumers sniffing products and making their own assumptions if a product is still ok to eat after the best before date has passed. The new ‘sniff test’ scheme will see brands add a ‘look, smell, taste’ label to their food packaging, in order to convey to the consumer that it’s safe to use your judgement on whether to eat the product after their ‘best before’ date.

This is not to be confused with the ‘use-by’ date in which this scheme does not support. A consumer could become very unwell if they apply the same judgement to a ‘use-by’ dated product that had passed that date. This is for the safety of the consumer as dangerous bacteria aren’t always identifiable by smell or taste, including meat, fish, prepared salads and cooked meats, such as ham. The scheme has campaigned for food manufacturers to reassess ‘use-by’ dates to be applied to only those products that have a genuine health risk to the consumer if they were to eat the product after that specified date.

Thirty brands such as Nestle have pledged to the scheme so far. They will begin using the labels on dairy and various other products to help more food stay on the table and out of the waste bin.

Label confusion is one of the top factors in high food wastage and consumers are encouraged to learn and recognise, through this scheme when longer lasting foods are still edible. Thus, minimising food wastage and increasing sustainability when shopping. Using this process will also reduce shopping bills which will help households save money where they may not have done before.

Consumers are reminded that there is an online fact checker within the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website. This is to be used to take away worries and anxiety they may have about particular items.

‘Freshness Timer’ Labels:

Another innovative scheme that has become available, is the ‘After Opening Timer’ or ‘Freshness Timer’. This has been developed by Insignia technologies, using ‘smart ink’ in which a visual representation of a products freshness is conveyed to the consumer. The intended use is for foods packaged within a modified atmosphere, such as; cooked meats and cheeses. Food packaging manufacturers are able to print the smart ink into the lidding film of the packaging. Therefore, once the consumer has opened the product, the ink will change colour over time to indicate how long the pack has been opened for. The printed indicator for the ink, can be calibrated to the recommended timescales of each food packaging manufacturer. It also has temperature sensitive capabilities, meaning the rate of colour change in the ink will decrease at a colder temperature. This is because storing foods like cooked meats below certain temperatures can result in a longer open life.

This broadens the spectrum for smart labels and inks within the food industry and print industry. It also helps to create sustainability and prevent food wastage in an alternative way to the ‘sniff test’ scheme. This may be favoured among the more cautious consumer as it is a visual reminder that will bring peace of mind to the consumption of foods after the best before date has passed.

The future:

The future is looking more positive in reducing food wastage and creating more sustainability within the food industry. However, new innovations are being created and built upon all the time. This is just one element that we have to work on, the government has also specified the idea of bringing eco-labelling as another piece of a product’s information, displayed in a traffic light systematic way. Whilst the industries work together to minimise the problems such as sustainability, climate-change and Obesity. The consumer is left with an astounding array of information they must perceive once they have picked up a product that has caught their attention. Deciphering this could become a problem if there becomes an overload of things to look at to decide if it is healthy for them, the planet, if it is organic etc. Etc. The government has begun working with the NHS and other companies to promote education and learning on how to read food labels but it may be an everlasting race, such as the growth in technology comes new compliance, regulation and laws within food labelling manufacturers, retailers and consumers must take in to account and how to present and read them.


It all comes down in the end to how you market your product as a first point in contact of grabbing a consumer’s attention. Not only this but to make them feel emotive and swayed towards that product, such as expressive language or imagery that may tug the heart strings or instil something they wanted ‘organic’ for example. Once this has been achieved only then will they spend time looking and reading a products label but if it is too confusing to work out whether it is healthy and will last longer for the price, they may just simply reject the product and continue with something they are used to which may even be unhealthier than your product.

How you put your information across matters just as much as using innovative technologies or campaigns such as the two we have discussed in this article. If you are able to present and incorporate these in a clear and concise way to your target market, the campaigns to reduce food wastage and increase sustainability will be successful. Everyone has a part to play in these industries to help fulfil and reduce the current issues we are battling.

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