Wasted Potatoes Chip Away at Family Finances, Costing us £230m a Year

Potat 520

Whether chipped, roasted or in their jackets, the humble potato remains a staple for the British menu. Indeed, to meet the popular demand, British farmers produced over 5.4 million tonnes of the vegetable last year alone .

  • Potatoes are the UK’s most wasted vegetable, costing households £230m a year
  • 5.8 million spuds are binned by British homes each day        
  • Sainsbury’s launches new opaque packaging to help potatoes last longer

But our love for the spud also means that they are the most commonly wasted vegetable, with an estimated 730,000 tonnes[1] binned by British households each year. 

Now, in a move to ‘Save Our Spuds’, Sainsbury’s has launched new packaging which will prevent potatoes from going green and developing a bitter taste. Designed to be 100% opaque – whilst still breathable – the new packaging prevents any light from reaching the produce, the most common culprit for “greening”.

The green discolouration develops thanks to a build-up of solanine, a naturally occurring chemical which is triggered by too much light.  Not only can it produce a green affect, but also bitterness, contributing to 5.8 million of veggies being destined for the bin each day.

Speaking of the move Jane Skelton, Head of Packaging for Sainsbury’s said: “Whether one half of your bangers and mash, or the essential accompaniment to a Sunday roast, potatoes are a British favourite. But exposure to sunlight means many of our spuds never make it to the table.  That’s why we’re calling ‘lights out’ in our latest effort to help tackle food waste. We’re confident that this will improve the shelf-life of our potatoes and, while the packaging might be opaque, we’re hoping the results will be clear to see!”

The new packaging will be rolled out across Sainsbury’s stores, across King Edwards and Lady Balfour potatoes – two varieties which are most susceptible to greening. The retailer recommends that all potatoes should be kept in a cool, dark place.

The move is the latest in a string of innovations from the retailer to help households cut waste. Last year, it launched Waste less, Save more: at £10 million programme to help UK households save money by reducing the amount of food they throw away. Since then the retailer has given out over 1 million fridge thermometers to help extend product freshness.

Elsewhere Sainsbury’s was the first major retailer to redesign packaging on its own brand sausages following customer feedback. Packs of eight sausages are now sold in connected ‘snap packs’, meaning that half can be opened and cooked, while the others can easily be stored or frozen for use another time. Similarly salad options are also now sold in two pre-packed portions, meaning they’re easier for single dinners and smaller households.

The supermarket has also revised storage and freezing instructions to make it easier for customers. Instead of saying ‘freeze on day of purchase’, labels now advise customers to ‘freeze as soon as possible after purchase and always within the use-by date’. 

Jane Skelton continues: “Freezing is one of the simplest ways to extend the life of your food. We know this helps our customers cut down on food waste, as it gives them more flexibility in being able to plan when they use items. Customers can actually freeze items up until midnight on the use-by date.”

Earlier this year, Sainsbury’s released a string of light-hearted animated videos designed to help people store their fresh items appropriately, including one on potatoes (pictured above) which can be viewed and embedded from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmexD-GdLfU.

The new packaging is currently being rolled to stores. For more details on initiatives being tested as part of Waste less, Save more visit: wastelesssavemore.sainsburys.co.uk.

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About the article

  • Posted on: 17 November 2016
  • Type of article: Press release

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