The figure comes after analysis looked at measures undertaken by food services operators at 86 sites across six countries.

Sites had reduced food waste by an average of 36% within one year, while 64% had recouped their investment, research found.

Savings were achieved thanks to investments such as smart scales to measure food waste, staff training, and redesigned menus. Eight in 10 (79%) sites managed to keep food waste reduction spending below $10,000.

The research was conducted on behalf of Champions 12.3, the coalition of government, business and civil society leaders which aim to accelerate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of halving global food waste by 2030.

“Taking action across the food industry is vital if we are to halve global food waste by 2030,” said Dave Lewis, group chief executive of Tesco and Champions 12.3 chair.

“As chair of Champions 12.3, I’m delighted to be able to share today’s report, which clearly shows that reducing food waste in the catering sector isn’t just the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense.”

Far-reaching returns

The report calls on caterers to take a “target, measure, act” approach to reduce kitchen food waste which includes engaging staff, reducing overproduction and re-purposing excess food.

Caterer BaxterStorey, case studied in the report, noted how it had slashed food waste by 40% since 2014 by segregating, weighing and reporting food waste through an online accounts portal.

BaxterStorey’s head of sustainable business Mike Hanson said: “The ROI is far reaching and not just financial in terms of cost of food; we have also seen huge savings in waste disposal and energy costs for our clients, our margins have improved and we have seen a massive reduction in carbon and other environmental impacts.”

Food loss and waste accounts for $940bn in economic losses and 8% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions each year. One-third of all food produced across the world goes uneaten.

Many in the business community taking steps to move their food waste strategy onto the next level. Just this week, J D Wetherspoon teamed up with food redistribution platform FareShare in a bid to divert more of its food waste from landfill.

Earlier this month, social food waste platform Neighbourly told edie that it was on the brink of an international rollout driven not by the enterprise itself, but by its clients, which includes the likes of Lidl, Heineken and Starbucks.

George Ogleby

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