The British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) is encouraging grocery retailers to freeze turkeys, sprouts, smoked salmon and other seasonal products this November and December to reduce food waste.

Research by Unilever suggests that every Christmas, a third of British consumers admit to throwing away more food than at any other time of year, leading to an estimated 2 million turkeys, 74 million mince pies and 5 million Christmas puddings ending-up in the bin.

The trade association says it’s likely that coronavirus restrictions will mean fewer people than usual will be sitting down to Christmas dinner in many households, leading to a potential surge in food waste if people stock-up on short shelf life fresh and chilled products.

BFFF chief executive, Richard Harrow, said: “With coronavirus restrictions looking like they will remain fluid, grocery retailers are struggling to estimate the level of demand this Christmas and there is a good chance that many fresh turkeys, as well as veg and desserts may go to waste this year. By opting to sell and promote more frozen products, especially birds and crowns, supermarkets will be able to avoid a significant increase in food waste. Any excess turkeys can be offered for sale next Easter.”

The BFFF says the growing popularity of frozen food means consumers will be happy to choose a frozen bird. The latest statistics from Kantar and BFFF show that for the 52 weeks to the 6th September 2020, sales of frozen food reached £6.9bn. In the last three months (w/e 6th Sept) sales have increased by £221m.

Harrow added: “People stock-up with lots of food for Christmas and big family groups usually make quick work of a big turkey as well as all the leftovers on Boxing Day. This year will be different, many people will likely be catering for a maximum of six, so there’s a danger that food waste will soar if people follow their usual December shopping habits.

“Buying a frozen turkey crown will ensure there’s enough to go around with just enough for turkey sandwiches on the 26th and buying frozen veg will mean that consumers can use just what’s needed and pop the rest back in the freezer for another meal.

“I appreciate that at this late stage extra freezing capacity will be limited, but I hope the supply chain will work together to try to freeze down more stock between now and the festive period to minimise food waste.”