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Smaller portions could cut food waste

10 | 06 | 13

The catering and hospitality industry could cut down on food waste by serving smaller portions, according to new research. 

A study conducted by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) found close to half of respondents leave food because the meal they ordered was too large. 

Furthermore, 44 per cent of UK consumers actually see large portions as off-putting. It is often side dishes such as chips, vegetables and salads that end up going to waste and WRAP believes restaurants and other businesses could cut costs by asking customers if these additional foods are wanted when they order. 

A significant amount of the respondents claimed they do not want to have to worry about how much of their meal they leave when eating out and it should be the responsibility of the establishment to serve the correct amount of food. 

The other major factor that could limit waste is if restaurants offered more choice. Over half of the people surveyed (53 per cent) said they would like to see a greater range of meals on restaurant menus. 

This could help to reduce waste as it would be more likely that customers were ordering exactly what they wanted. 

Financial benefits

Tackling food waste is in the interests of restaurants and other businesses as it can allow them to make considerable financial savings. 

WRAP has estimated that pubs, hotels, restaurants and quick service-venues could cut their costs by as much as £772 million a year by reducing the amount of food that goes to waste and doing more to recycle. This money could then be reinvested into the business to improve their offering and boost customer experience. 

In a bid to encourage more companies to act on this issue, WRAP has launched the Hospitality and Food Service Agreement, which allows businesses to voluntarily commit to reduce their food and packaging waste by five per cent and increase recycling by 70 per cent. More than 150 companies have already signed up to the scheme.

Richard Swannell, WRAP director, commented: "By highlighting consumer attitudes there is an opportunity for industry to create practical solutions to the problem."

The organisation has also developed an online resource pack for businesses, which provides details of its research and a selection of menus that contain meals with a variety of portion choices.

Meanwhile, Unilever - the company behind brands such as Marmite, Flora and Magnum - has launched an industry mobile app 'Wise up on Waste' that provides suggestions on how chefs and caterers can avoid food waste.

Industry commissions study

In April this year, a study into food waste was commissioned by some of the leading organisations in the catering and hospitality sector. 

It will be carried out by London company Carbon Statement and once complete it will provide a series of recommendations, including the best catering equipment to limit wastage and maximize efficiency. 

The study is backed by WRAP and Charlotte Henderson, the organisation's programme manager, stated: "WRAP is delighted to support this collaborative and innovative approach to increasing the recycling rate of food waste and reducing the amount that ends up in landfill."ADNFCR-16001031-ID-801597062-ADNFCR

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