Posted 22 March
Shoppers are being asked their views on the packaging of the bakery products they buy as part of a student research project.
The questions are part of the Honours Research Project of final year Harper Adams University Food student Panaghiota Hole, who is examining if household food waste could be reduced through changes to packaging.
Panaghiota discussed her research at a recent Food and Business mini-conference at the University, where she set out what an issue food waste can be in the UK – and how much of it can be affected by consumer choice.
While bakery products only make up a small amount of the food wasted in the UK, 500,000 tonnes still go uneaten every year.
In her presentation for the conference, Panaghiota explained: “Out of that total amount, only less than 1,000 tonnes are inedible – not safe for human consumption. That means the majority of it could have been eaten perfectly safely – could have fed someone, but it went into waste.”
Among the issues which Panaghiota believes may be driving food waste could be the changing demographics of the UK consumer – including the growth of single-person households among older people.
She said: “We have a lot of single households, but not enough packaging which accommodates their needs.
“As I found in the literature, packaging tends to be too large for household size – so a big family could have a loaf of bread, but if it’s just you – you might not go through it in a week, you might not want to eat bread every day – also, as people are aging, they tend to eat less, so they eat less food – in the current market there’s not a lot that accommodates that.”
As part of her research, Panaghiota is running a questionnaire, asking shoppers for their views on the bakery products they buy, the packaging used, and more.
The short questionnaire – which is open to UK shoppers aged 18 and over – can be found here.
Speaking after the conference, she added: “I think food waste is a huge issue - from my personal experience, I grew up wasting a lot of food in my house and now I want to help reduce it, as it is a huge shame that perfectly good food is not used.”
Originally from Greece, Panaghiota moved to Donington in Lincolnshire in her teens. While considering University, she discovered Harper Adams and found herself drawn to its courses as they combined both practical and theoretical aspects – and by the warmth of the University community.
She added: “When I was looking for courses, I really liked business but also loved food and baking - so I think my course combines the two, plus more, very well.
“I chose Harper because I felt very welcome by the staff and the students, it was also a very nice environment to be in – which helps manage the stress of assignments!”