New loaf size could help cut waste

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bread

Bread manufacturers are being encouraged to take advantage of recent changes to regulations by introducing new loaf sizes to the UK market to help cut down on waste.

The UK’s Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap) wants to see more mid-size, or 600g loaves, as well as the standard 400g or 800g, to help cut down on packaging and encourage shoppers to throw less away.

It follows a recent change to ancient laws governing the size of bread in the UK which are to be overturned in April after the European Parliament decided to abolish the restrictions for prepackaged loaves last May to bring it in line with Europe. The old rules ensured that loaves above 300g still weighed 400g or a multiple thereof.

Andrew Parry, a program manager at Wrap, told that now manufacturers have​complete flexibility to sell whatever size loaf they want, there was potential for innovation in pack size and format.

Parry​said: “We are not suggesting there is an industry agreement on a set loaf size, although that may happen over time.

“But there is clearly an opportunity to look at bread sizes.”

He added that there would be benefits for manufacturers from introducing more bread size options, both materially and in terms of image.

Parry said: “With packaging there is a business benefit in terms of bottom line as well as helping the environment and consumers like to see a reduction in packaging.

“Food waste is about being seen to be committed to the environment and helping people (save money) particularly in these hard times.

“It is about loyalty and giving consumers what they want."

Wrap was set up as a not-for-profit company in 2000 to help people and organisations reduce waste and recycle more.

Its figures show that 25 per cent of all bread ends up in the bin rather than being eaten.

Industry support

In 2005 Wrap launched the Courtauld Commitment, a voluntary agreement between WRAP and major UK grocery organisations that supports less packaging and food waste ending up in household bins.

Parry said that 37 companies have signed up, including bread manufacturers Premier Foods, Associated British Foods and Warburtons.

Warburtons has already introduced new 600g loaves which it says is “for shoppers who need more than a 400g loaf but not as much as an 800g”​.

Storage advice

The Federation of Bakers, which represents the UK bread industry, is currently updating its consumer storage guidance for bread on its website, with suggestions such as putting slices that will not be used in the freezer to eat later and making more use of bread in cooking.

Gordon Polson, the federation’s director, said: “The benefits are that the consumer gets the product that they actually want and they are able to make perhaps even more use of bread than they have in the past.”

He added that introducing a loaf size was purely a commercial decision for individual bakers to make.

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