It’s symbolised by dismal burgers and carbonised sausages served on paper plates with a splatter of ketchup. Yet with the great British summer well under way, Britons are this month set to throw away a staggering £428m worth of barbecue food, research reveals.
In August the nation will brave the changeable weather to enjoy nearly 12m barbecues, with people on average either hosting or attending at least two of the seasonal gatherings. The new research from supermarket chain Sainsbury’s shows that hosts typically over-cater to impress friends and family, with more than half (49.2%) putting on a larger than necessary spread.
Salad leaves, burger rolls, hot dog buns, coleslaw and potato salad are the top five food items most likely to be wasted during barbecue season, the research found, amounting to £36.47 worth of food waste at each event. The total does not include drink.
The most binned item is half a bag of salad – contributing to the 178m bags thrown away every year in the UK, according to official figures published recentlyby the government’s food waste advisory body Wrap.
With strict new advice from the Food Standards Agency for consumers about staying safe when preparing food for picnics as well as barbecues, consumers may be preferring to chuck it out rather than take risks.
About 26.6% of people said they throw away uneaten salad if it’s been left uncovered outside, even for a short time, while 22% complained that “fussy eaters” accounted for some of their leftovers. Another reason for the waste is catering for the “no carbs” brigade; 15% said they ended up with leftover bread rolls and buns because of guests’ dietary choices.
“Britons want to give their guests a fantastic barbecue experience with enough options to please everyone’s tastes,” said Paul Crewe, head of sustainability, engineering, energy and environment at Sainsbury’s. “However, a good plan for leftovers will mean hosts can still offer their friends a feast fit to remember without … food ending up in the bin.” Crewe also suggested hosts could set menus, create doggy bags for guests and make plans to use leftovers to help reduce waste.
The new report into barbecue food waste is part of Sainsbury’s’ Waste Less, Save More initiative aiming to help customers reduce food waste. As part of the scheme, the supermarket has introduced a new range of packaging for some barbecue essentials such as sausages and added tips on reducing waste to 70 products.