Greater use of frozen vegetables and other frozen foods would help reduce waste and even make healthy foods more affordable, according to a Cranfield University report.
Commissioned by the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF), the report compared waste generated through the supply chains of carrots, potatoes and broccoli as well as cod.
It found that more than 80 per cent of edible food waste occurs in the frozen supply chain before reaching the retailer, at a stage when it can more readily be reused or recycled, compared with 47-72 per cent in the fresh supply chain. The report suggests that such savings could contribute to making food more affordable.
Frozen products are already "less expensive than their fresh equivalents", although the picture for carrots is complicated by the fact those sold frozen are generally baby carrots, which fall between Chantenay and regular fresh carrots in price, it noted.
Frozen food can also "significantly reduce" greenhouse gas emissions for products such as broccoli not produced in the UK year-round, it claimed. "As energy becomes more renewable, and technology improves refrigeration and transport, this reduction is likely to be increased."
Switching to UK-grown frozen broccoli in winter rather than importing fresh product could reduce emissions by 15 per cent, it calculates, pointing out that these benefits are in line with Government policy aims.
BFFF chief executive Brian Young said: "As this research clearly shows, embracing a wide variety of frozen food can help us to achieve the goals set out by the Government in its food security strategy in a sustainable way."
"It makes eminently good sense from the waste point of view. You can go to the freezer and take out just the amount you want - it's almost a no-brainer. We do it all the time with peas, why not broccoli or cauliflower florets?"
Jack Ward, chief executive, British Growers