Are chefs up for a food waste fight?

First ever FootprintChannel debate highlights “cost, culture and communication” as key to waste reduction.

Foodservice Footprint IMG_5305-300x200 Are chefs up for a food waste fight? Foodservice News and Information Out of Home sector news Zeitgeist  Young's Brewery WRAP Waste - What Next? Thomas Jelley Sodexo Rowley Leigh Piers Devereux Nestle Professional Neil Whittall Ken Mullholland John Twitchen Institute of Hospitality Huhtamaki Geronimo Inns FootprintChannel Ed Turner CIWM Chris Cox British Hospitality Association Brakes Biffa Acquire Services 3G Sauce Consultancy











A CULTURE CHANGE is needed in UK commercial kitchens if the foodservice sector is to deal with the escalating problem of food waste. Communication up and down the supply chain also needs to improve if businesses want to reduce their waste and cut costs. That’s the conclusion of the first ever FootprintChannel live online debate, which took place this today, 8th October.


The interactive programme, entitled “Waste – What Next?”, was also beamed simultaneously to the Restaurant Show’s Business Boot Camp area, and prompted a flurry of activity on Twitter.


Waste is a key issue in foodservice and hospitality currently, with almost half the waste arisings, or 1.5 million tonnes, ending up in landfill. Some 600,000 tonnes of that is food waste, two thirds of it perfectly edible.


The online programme therefore focused on the new Hospitality and Foodservice Agreement launched by WRAP this year, and the opportunities and challenges it presented.


In the first of two debates streamed live, Richard Swannell, WRAP director of design, explained how the Agreement was proving more popular than he had expected with “over 100 companies” now signed up. This equates to 19% of the sector by turnover, he said, and is “a really good start”.


The first year of the Agreement is all about setting baselines and initiating work groups so the sector can move forward as a whole, explained Swannell.


“We want to build a momentum [across foodservice and hospitality] to deliver real outcomes. We’ve found with other voluntary agreements that they work with the grain of the sector, [allowing] the sector to move together in a way that works for their businesses and their customers.”


Swannell was joined on the panel by Rowley Leigh, chef patron at Le Café Anglais, Piers Devereux, Nestlé Professional sustainability manager and Sodexo corporate citizenship manager Thomas Jelley.


Leigh highlighted the changes in culture that are essential if food businesses are to cut waste. “You see TV chefs cutting fish into squares and using the rest for stock – but that is food. It’s all about look and presentation front of house, but [that’s] creating a mountain of waste out the back.”


Leigh explained how chefs used “to use every scrap of food”, but now food doesn’t cost as much and “it’s easier to throw something out rather than finding ways to use it”.


Devereux agreed that a change in culture was needed and ambitious targets could help. Nestlé Professional’s own experience shows that such targets have “heightened efforts” not just internally but throughout the supply chain.


Businesses from right across the supply chain were represented in the two panels. Many said that communication across the chain is improving, with some companies working hard to find solutions. Brakes, for instance, has a third party agreement with another company so it can offer its clients waste collection.


Ed Turner, commercial director Young and Co’s Brewery and Geronimo Inns, called for even more collaboration in the supply chain to find solutions that minimize waste, especially in areas where storage and segregation can be a problem. Consumers also expect businesses to be managing their waste responsibly and reducing it, he said.


“Consumers expect businesses to [recycle, for example] because they can do it at home. We are not using [our waste reduction initiatives] to develop business or as a PR stunt. Cost is always an issue for us.”


Turner was joined on the second panel by Chris Cox, Biffa head of corporate accounts (leisure), Brakes group environment manager Ken Mulholland and Foodservice Packaging Association chairman Neil Whittall.


Money came up frequently during their discussion, with a live online poll highlighting how a 240-litre bin of food waste can cost £240 in purchase and preparation. WRAP has estimated that the sector could save £76m by the end of 2015 if the targets in the waste agreement are met.


Business large and small were encouraged to take the issue of waste seriously. “Small businesses have got to have time for this,” said Young’s Turner, who highlighted the considerable savings his company has made through higher recycling rates.


The shift in culture also came up again, with chefs required to focus on waste prevention – reduction is, after all, at the top of the waste hierarchy. “We want to get food to people first and foremost,” said Sodexo’s Jelley.


The show’s recycled version is available ‘On Demand’. Register Here