Food packaging perception and reality

5th March 2013

A new report published today highlights that changes in consumer attitudes and behaviours around packaging could help reduce household food waste.

WRAP produced the report – Consumer Attitudes to Food Waste and Food Packaging - in partnership with INCPEN, The Packaging Federation, Food and Drink Federation (FDF), Kent Waste Partnership and British Retail Consortium (BRC).  The partners have come together to highlight a number of simple solutions for consumers, local authorities and the food and packaging industry to help reduce food waste in the home.

The research launched today reinforces that consumers do not realise the important role packaging plays in helping to reducing food waste, particularly once they get products home. Whilst there is recognition that packaging is important to protect food on its way to, and in, the store, only 13% of consumers believe that it can play the same role in the home.

Despite continued packaging innovation to extend in-home life, through the use of intelligent materials, vacuum-packing and more recloseable packs, most consumers still believe that keeping food in packaging at home leads to it spoiling more quickly. As a result the group behind the research are backing a new initiative from Love Food Hate Waste, ‘Fresher for Longer’ which shows the important relationship that packaging can play to help reduce food waste.

The research also shows that consumers feel confident about how they store food. However only 22% currently look at storage guidance on pack which would maximise life in the home, and many are in reality storing foods in less than ideal conditions. Bread is a great example, with many storing bread in the fridge, even though it goes stale six times faster, similarly by storing apples in the fridge in their original packaging can stay fresher for up to two weeks longer.

The report also suggests that food retailers, manufactures and their trade associations should raise awareness with consumers about the existing innovations in packaging, food labelling, and design that have been made in the last few years and how to keep food fresher for longer.  Not surprisingly the research found that, after price, freshness and how long food lasts for are the most important factors for consumers. However throwing away food as a result of it not being used in time is costing UK consumers £6.7 billion a year (*£270 for the average household).

The ‘Fresher for longer’ initiative launched with exclusive retail partner Marks and Spencer at Tunbridge Wells store with the support of Kent Waste Partnership. The creative campaign shows that apples should ‘keep their pack on’ and pears hold onto theirs ‘till lunch do us part’ demonstrating that packaging not only keeps it fresher for longer, but also protects food in the home.  The ‘Fresher for Longer’ campaign materials can be used by all retailers, brands and councils from today. Visit Love Food Hate Waste website for all the campaign visuals including handy bag clip postcards, on-pack artwork and posters.

In addition to the national report and campaign launch in Kent, a Parliamentary launch takes place the same afternoon.  The All Party Parliamentary Group on Packaging is hosting a special meeting at 2pm in the Houses of Parliament to raise awareness of the partners’ ‘Consumer Attitudes’ report, and also the Fresher for Longer campaign. 

Richard Swannell, Director of Design and Waste Prevention at WRAP said: “Food waste is an enormous problem that needs tackling throughout the whole supply chain. With 7.2mt of waste occurring in the home, our latest report has investigated consumer awareness around packaging, and how storing food effectively can help reduce that waste. By working with companies and industry bodies, we can help consumers to take advantage of recent innovations and keep food fresher for longer.”

Speaking at M&S Tunbridge Wells store, Adam Elman, Head of Plan A Delivery at M&S, said: “By reducing the amount of packaging we use and ensuring its easily recyclable, we’ve worked hard to make it as easy as possible for our customers to live more sustainably. Packaging plays an important role in protecting the quality and freshness of our food, which is why we feature on-pack storage advice and continue to introduce innovative packaging that keeps food fresher for longer.
We’re delighted to be part of this new campaign which is a win-win for our customers – not only will it help them to keep their food fresh, but it will reduce their food waste and save them money too.”

Councillor Paul Barrington-King, Chairman of the Kent Waste Partnership, said: ““The ground-breaking consumer perceptions report, and the fantastic Fresher for Longer campaign, are the fruits of a cross-sector partnership that is delivering results. Harnessing the collective clout of high profile partnerships is a big part of maintaining the KWP's position at the vanguard of industry activities and I’m delighted it is launching in Kent.”

Dick Searle, Packaging Federation stated: “The Packaging Federation is very pleased to be working with this wide stakeholder group to examine the role of packaging. This will help enable us all to reduce food waste. The Fresher for Longer campaign will highlight the ways that the food that we buy can continue to be well protected until it is eaten.”

Jane Bickerstaffe, INCPEN, said: “INCPEN is delighted to be working with WRAP, Kent Waste Partnership, the Food and Drink Federation, the Packaging Federation and the British Retail Consortium.  Together we can show consumers how packaging helps them reduce their environmental footprint by keeping the food they need safe and fresh on its journey to the shops.  And also how, thanks to packaging, they can keep food fresher for longer at home.”

David Bellamy, Food and Drink Federation said: “The Food and Drink Federation is delighted to be working with WRAP and the other project partners on this important piece of consumer research. We believe the ‘Fresher for longer’ campaign will finally bring home to consumers that good packaging does actually save waste.”

Alice Ellison, British Retail Consortium said: “I hope this research helps to end the demonisation of packaging.  We have long said that appropriate use of packaging preserves food and reduces waste.  Grocery retailers have already achieved notable reductions in food and packaging waste through working with WRAP on the Courtauld Commitment targets and the Love Food Hate Waste campaign.  This report should stimulate further reductions in food waste by promoting the role that packaging plays in keeping food fresher for longer in the home.”


  1. WRAP’s vision is a world without waste, where resources are used sustainably. It works in partnership to help businesses, individuals and communities improve resource efficiency.
  2. Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
  3. For more information on Love Food Hate Waste and fresher for longer visit
  4. Download and use the new fresher for longer artwork including posters and postcards here.
  5. The full research report can be found here More information on all of WRAP's programmes can be found on 
  6. * £270 per family (the value of good food and drink that’s thrown away because it’s “not used in time”). Helping consumers reduce fruit and vegetable waste September 2008 By keeping fruit and vegetables in their original packaging in the fridge they will keep up to two weeks longer.
  7. Customers can find useful food storage tips via M&S’s Plan A website:
  8. Kate Fox ditties used as part of the social media campaign.

Don’t get in a spin
it really is no teaser
clip half your bag in a bread bin
and the other half in the freezer

SPID your spud.
Store Potatoes In the Dark
to keep your tattes good
Carrots and apples
can happily chillax
at the bottom of the fridge
in their packs
Easy peasy cheesy store,
Ziplock, Tupperware, fridge drawer.

Fridges and freezers

are good for hard cheeses.

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