Diners want food waste cut new research reveals

In Scotland, over half of all consumers surveyed about food waste believe portion sizes are too big or they’ve ordered too much when eating out. 

4 Jun 13

The claims are made in a UK-wide research report published today into consumers’ attitudes and behaviour around food waste when they eat out in pubs, hotels, restaurants and quick service restaurants.

The research provides real insight for businesses to act on to reduce food waste, with significant opportunity for food providers to save money and reduce waste by offering more choice and a range of portion sizes. The report suggests businesses can, for example, save money by asking whether the most often wasted foods - side dishes, such as chips, vegetables and salad – are actually wanted.  

The research by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), which delivers the Zero Waste Scotland programme for the Scottish Government, also reported that three quarters want to see ‘doggy bags’ on offer, with half too embarrassed to ask for these.

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, such as menus that offer a variety of portion choices.

It is estimated that the hospitality and food service sector could save an estimated £722 million a year across the UK by preventing food waste and increasing recycling. Action is already being taken with over 150 companies signing up to the UK-wide Hospitality and Food Service Agreement (HaFSA) which launched in June 2012. It is a voluntary commitment to cut food and associated packaging waste by 5% and increase recycling to 70%.

Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“Knowing what diners feel about the amount of food they are ordering and paying for when they are eating out in Scotland is really important as we continue to work to tackle food waste.

“We already knew that 53,500t of Scotland’s food waste comes from the hospitality sector each year and this new research will help us to help the industry to take more steps to minimise the amount of food wasted by them and their customers.

“The Hospitality and Food Service Agreement demonstrates there are many in the industry keen to address this issue and it is encouraging to see that consumers would welcome some changes to how much food they are served when they are eating out. An industry working group we recently established will also look at the issue of menu planning and portion sizes.”

The Resource Efficient Scotland programme, delivered by Zero Waste Scotland, works with the hospitality sector in Scotland and provides expertise in how to be more efficient in the use of water, energy and raw materials, and this support also includes advice on minimising food waste.

WRAP’s research is being launched at Unilever Food Solutions industry event, ‘United Against Waste’ in London today where Unilever will unveil the industry-first mobile app – ‘Wise up on Waste’ - to help chefs and caterers identify and reduce avoidable food waste. The Sustainable Restaurant Association and other leading operators, will be attending the launch of the research to explain the cost of waste and why it’s important to both consumers and the industry.

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