Beating ‘best before’ : how brands are inspiring consumers


Nikita Simone

Senior Research Executive, London

Categories Blog Sustainability
Tags food waste

For those in the UK, memories of our long easter weekend will be quickly diminishing but for many of us, a lot of our weekend revolved around consuming all things delicious. I don’t know about you, but the thought of how much food waste would result directly from the Easter weekend hadn’t even crossed my mind.


Research by Tesco and environmental charity Hubbub suggests that £58.4million worth of wasted food was destined for bins in British households this Easter just gone. In the UK alone we waste 9.5million tonnes of food every single year; 70% of which from our own homes. Even more shocking is that over half of the food wasted could have actually been eaten, roughly 8 meals per household per week!

This is a worldwide problem, beyond the UK; a third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted and 900 million tonnes is thrown away every year. Numbers so daunting it’s difficult to know what you’re doing wrong, what the impact is and where you can help.

Food waste is almost never intentional, life often gets in the way, plans change and many people don’t feel they have the skills or confidence to turn random/leftover ingredients into a tasty end meal. But what if I told you that it was really easy… tackling the problem doesn’t require ‘big changes’, you can take small, simple steps that will make a huge difference.

At the beginning of March it was Food Waste Action Week – the first national week of its kind – with the intention of emphasising that we can all be part of the solution: many small actions for big impact. A principle that rings true throughout sustainability.

We have started seeing great examples of global brands leading the way in tackling food waste with this key principle of small actions = big impact. They’re educating and providing us as consumers with the tools to do something about it.  Empowering people to be more creative, savvy, and to have a little extra forethought into how they consume at home.

One of these brands being Hellmann’s. Who have angled their comms around this idea, including a prime Super Bowl ad slot this year with a truly great 45 second slot of Amy Schumer playing the ‘Fairy Godmayo’ inspiring others using ‘mayo magic’ to transform random ingredients into delicious dishes.

The Unilever brand have signed the ‘step up to the plate’ pledge to stop the food waste crisis and their website is full of great ideas and ways to use up your leftovers to inspire us to ‘love your leftovers’ with ‘plenty of taste, and no waste’.

Hellmann’s developed the ‘3+1 Approach’ to give people a simple rule of thumb: use a base (any carb), vegetables/fruits, and a protein (ideally from a sustainability view this would be as little meat / fish as possible but essentially whatever is laying around). Bring these ingredients together with a ‘magic touch’ of herbs/spices/condiments to add flavour and it really is as simple as that. This concept was also accompanied by a book of flexible recipes which apply the 3+1 Approach with ideas for using commonly wasted household ingredients such as potatoes, bread, tomatoes and apples.

Recent research by the brand found that one ‘use-up day’ each week cuts food waste by a third! It’s as simple as making a meal using forgotten or challenging ingredients already in the kitchen so they don’t get ignored and eventually binned.

The Global Brand VP Christina Bauer-Plank recognises that “As Hellmann’s reaches into millions of homes every day through our products, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to help people become more resourceful with their food to ultimately help waste less food”.

This is exactly the attitude that will be pivotal in empowering people with the tools and knowledge to make small changes for big impact. This is a principle that should be adopted for sustainable behaviour change in general not just when it comes to food waste. Hopefully we will start to see more brands follow suit in all aspects of sustainability.

In the meantime, what small changes could you make in your own day-to-day lives to continue the conversation, make some noise and inspire?