Addressing food waste continues to be a key area of focus at M&S and our number one priority is to reduce waste occurring in the first place. As part of this, we have been working closely with WRAP and collaborating on a number of initiatives aimed at increasing what we can do to help our customers reduce waste at home..
We have focussed our attention on three areas. Firstly, we have looked at packaging - good packaging protects food from getting damaged and keeps it fresher for longer, which ultimately reduces food waste. We’ve worked really hard to make sure that the packaging we are using has been optimised to extend the life of products wherever it can using some clever innovations that you might not have even noticed. For example, perforating the lidding film on a punnet of strawberries to match the moisture content of the fruit, vacuum packaging cuts of meat and using a laser to cut microscopic holes in croissant packaging have all added several days shelf life to our products. This gives our customers longer to eat the product whilst retaining its freshness and great taste. We’ve introduced individually wrapped fillets of chicken and fish in a multi-pack to enable customers to get great value from buying in bulk in a way that is easy for them to use what they need and freeze the rest. We’ve also developed packs that can be re-closed multiple times with a label or a zipper and added them to nuts, fruit and croutons, keeping the products fresher for longer even after the packaging has been opened.
The second area we focussed on was product storage information. We were chosen by WRAP to help launch the Fresher for Longer
campaign which gave guidance to consumers about how best to prevent food waste by ensuring that products are correctly stored. To do this we ran a series of events in our stores where we distributed food storage wheels which contained a series of simple tips of tricks targeted at helping our consumers. We also changed our on pack guidance to make it clearer to customers what products could be frozen.
The third area we have also been working closely on with WRAP has been to deliver the Love Food Hate Waste 10 Cities campaign
. Working with local authorities and our stores in Manchester over the last 2 years we have delivered a number of events all with the aim of raising awareness about food waste, educating consumers and changing behaviours. M&S funded cookery classes for over 200 residents who resoundingly said that they’d learnt invaluable skills that would improve their confidence in the kitchen and ultimately help them to better plan meals, prepare food and prevent waste. With the help of an expert chef we also held a large event in Manchester city centre where we offered tips and inspiration on what to do with food that has passed its best, and the public got involved making fruit smoothies and Eton mess from products that they may otherwise have wasted.
We haven’t stopped there however. We continue to search the packaging market for innovative ways that we can extend the life of products and keep them as fresh as possible for as long as possible. We’re doing that while at the same time ensuring that the amount of packaging we use has been optimised and that it can be recovered and recycled as easily as possible - since 2007 we have reduced food packaging by 30% and over 85% of the packaging we do use is recyclable. We are also supporting the new Love Food Hate Waste campaign which is targeting residents and businesses in London.
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