Picky pensioners, not ‘snowflake’ millennials, waste the most food

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When it comes to eating habits, no age group is more scrutinised than the millennial, whose avocado and latte habits are blamed for their inability to get on the property ladder. But research by BusinessWaste.co.uk reveals that it is pensioners, not young people, who waste the most food.

£16 billion worth of food is thrown away in Britain each year – a staggering amount. Many households throw away over £50 worth of food per week, but who is shouldering the blame? While it would seem obvious that families with fussy children or millennials with their changing tastes are the culprits, it appears that elderly people are one of the biggest offenders when it comes to wasting food.

Evidence seen by waste management experts BusinessWaste.co.uk shows that, as a demographic, the over-65s are prone to buying food and throwing it away uneaten, both in the home and while eating out.

Part of the reason for this may be that older people tend to experience a decrease in appetite as they age – leading them to continue buying groceries out of habit, rather than to suit their needs. However, there are certain anecdotal studies that show other reasons for OAPs’ uneconomical behaviour.

It may seem like a stereotype – the picky pensioner – but studies appear to support that older people are fussier when it comes to food, perhaps due to decades of honing their tastes, likes, and dislikes. However, this seems to correlate with a higher percentage of food wastage, as over-65s are statistically more likely to leave items when eating out at restaurants and cafes.

They are also the generation with the highest level of disposable income overall – meaning that they are much less price-sensitive when it comes to buying (and wasting) food.

On average, younger people – including the much-maligned millennial – are much more price-sensitive and therefore unable to afford food wastage. Because of this, despite the often-quoted love of avocados, young people are increasingly choosing to choose methods of cooking and preparing food that reduce waste, such as meal prepping and buying ingredients from no-waste, packaging-free shops.

Mark Hall, Communications Director of BusinessWaste.co.uk, said:

 “The media loves to demonise younger people for wasting food, but it turns out our parents and grandparents might be the ones to blame instead! We need to tackle food wastage with all demographics, and part of that should include older people, who might be less likely to engage with recent developments such as food waste bins, meal prepping, or zero-waste food shops.

“Progress can’t happen without an effort from everyone, regardless of their demographic – and the over-65s are included in that. We all have a responsibility to reduce our waste, however we can, and we hope that more and more people – regardless of age – will take steps to do so.”

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