AECOC report shows young people aged 25-34 waste the most food

Tue 08/10/2019 by Richard Wilkinson

The report ‘Habits for the use of food in Spanish households’ indicates that 11.7% of millennials believe they frequently waste their food due to poor planning, due to products expiration, or because they do not know how to take advantage of leftover food. 73% of users admit that they consume products once their expiration date is exceeded, in many cases due to ignorance of their true meaning.

A Spanish report produced by the AECOC Shopperview study platform finds that 11.7% of young people between 25 and 34 admit that they throw their food in the trash frequently, which makes them the age group that generates the most food waste in our country. According to the study, up to 22.1% of these young people consider the lack of knowledge of recipes to be one of the main reasons why they end up throwing away food.

Expanding the sample to the population as a whole, 91.6% of citizens say they do not usually throw away food, and only 7.7% consider that they waste food frequently. This data, based on the perceptions of citizens, contrasts with the results obtained by the Quantification Panel of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, which warns of a growth in food waste in Spanish households.

“This contrast shows that, on occasion, we are not aware of the large amount of both prepared and fresh foods that we discard, and this should make us reflect on the value of food beyond its price,” said the head of the project against food waste from AECOC, Núria de Pedraza.

Fruits and vegetables, the most wasted

The AECOC report shows how fruits and vegetables are, by far, the most commonly thrown away products. 67.2% of households regularly waste these foods, in contrast with 17.8% who end up throwing away bread and pastries and 15.8% who get rid of sauces. Only 6.3% of consumers say they end up discarding meat and fish.

 As for the reasons that lead to waste, 46.4% point to poor planning when making the purchase, while 35.4% consider that the shelf life of food is too short. 22.1% of young people between 25 and 34 years old add the fact that they don’t know any recipes for taking advantage of food scraps, while 23.9% of families with five or more members point to the lack of order and space in the fridge and the pantry as a cause of waste in their homes.

Smell and appearance, main indicators

The report also asks consumers about the reasons for deciding to throw away food. The smell is the most cited cause (39%), followed by appearance (35%). Only 14% of consumers cite the expiration date as the main indicator of discarding a product, while 9% blame the taste and 3% the best-before date.

In fact, the study shows the great confusion about the difference between expiration date and best-before date. Thus, 43% of consumers believe that a product can be consumed because it remains safe once it has expired. This confusion is especially significant among those over 65.

The confusion around this concept has an impact on citizens’ habits, since up to 73% of respondents acknowledge that they consume products once they have expired, compared with only 26.9% that always respect the expiration date.

VII AECOC Meeting Point

The VII AECOC Meeting Point will be held in the framework of AECOC’s 2nd Week against food waste on September 26th in Madrid. The event will bring together more than 300 European professionals from the agri-food chain to jointly fight against food waste.

The meeting, which analyses outstanding success stories from the primary sector, industry, food distribution and hospitality will serve to exchange ideas and experiences among the more than 300 public administration professionals, companies, associations of consumers and food banks assistants.


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