Supermarkets deliberately bake too much bread in-store as a marketing tool to attract shoppers, according to food waste charities.
Tonnes of unsold bread is collected daily by charities including The Real Junk Food Project. But supermarkets have rejected the claims, saying all stores have targets to reduce waste.
As reported by British Baker back in July, bread is still being used as a loss-leader in a bid to emphasise the value of higher-priced items.
Corin Bell, director of the Real Junk Food Project (RJFP) in Manchester, told BBC Radio 4 this week that fresh products are used as marketing tools because they are seen as a “mark of quality and freshness”.
“It’s one of the things that consumers notice," she said. "There’s lots of research out there that shows when bakery goods are still hot they move way faster and it’s something that entices customers into a store.”
Bell said the waste issue can arise because the items are “quickly perishable”,
At the charity’s outlet in Leeds, warehouse manager Phil Cash said he collected up to two tonnes of bread products a day - the largest volume comes from Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s. But he said the charity still has to spend up to £3,500 a year dumping perished items.
He said: “Particularly with things like baguettes, they have a particularly short shelf-life so being able to re-distribute them, we just can’t do it fast enough... some things still get wasted.”
Greenhalgh’s director and former CBA president David Smart told British Baker: “It’s terrible, I mean it’s food that somebody can benefit from, but that’s business I’m afraid.”
He added: “Retailers have a policy to keep the shelves full. When people don’t buy them, they have shelves full of out-of-date bread.”
Smart added that supermarkets that have surplus bread should give it to those less fortunate than “the average working class citizen”.
“They can definitely do something with it. I know some supermarkets already do, but it could feed a lot of people in food banks. I am sure there is a happy medium where people are less fortunate than we are who can benefit from this surplus.”