Side dishes to blame for food waste

MORE THAN half of consumers leave food uneaten because the portions are too big or they have ordered too much, often in the form of side dishes.


New research published today, June 4th, shows that changes to portion sizes, greater choice and improved communication with customers could cut waste and save foodservice companies millions of pounds.


Around 53% of consumers would like to see more choice, while 44% believe large portions are off-putting. Significantly, the most wasted food is often the side dishes of chips, vegetables and salad – asking whether these are wanted is an easy way restaurants, pubs and hotels could cut waste and save money said WRAP, which carried out the research.


The study also highlighted that consumers do not want to have to worry about how much of their meal they leave when dining out – they believe that is the responsibility of the foodservice outlet.


Richard Swannell, WRAP director and head of food waste said: “By highlighting consumer attitudes there is an opportunity for industry to create practical solutions to the problem.”


It is estimated that pubs, hotels, restaurants and quick service restaurants could save an estimated £722m a year by preventing food waste and increasing recycling.


Last year, a voluntary agreement was launched to help reduce the waste created by foodservice companies. The target is to cut food and associated packaging waste by 5% and increase recycling to 70%.


WRAP also revealed that 150 companies have now signed up to the Hospitality and Food Service Agreement (HaFSA), which maintains the impressive start to the programme. However, some companies are finding it difficult to divert unavoidable food waste from landfill to anaerobic digestion.


Some companies have launched their own waste initiatives to drive change across the sector. Unilever Food Solutions, for instance, is running a United Against Waste campaign, with interactive videos and a waste toolkit.


Later today, June 4th, at an industry-wide event, UFS will be launching more new tools to help chefs cut waste, including a new mobile app.


WRAP has produced an on-line resource pack for the hospitality and food service sector which gives a summary of the research and practical solutions. These include menus that offer a variety of portion choices and messages.