Hospitality and food sector wastes 1.3bn meals each year

The UK's hospitality and food service sector throws away 920,000 tonnes of food waste each year, which is the equivalent to 1.3bn meals, according to new research from Wrap.

The report, ‘Overview of waste in the UK Hospitality and Food Service (HaFS) Sector’ also revealed that the cost of food being wasted from the sector is estimated at £2.5bn per year, which could rise to £3bn per year by 2016 unless steps are taken to prevent food being wasted.

Wrap programme manager for hospitality and food service Charlotte Henderson said: “Although the headline figures are large, there are significant opportunities across the whole hospitality and food service sector to reduce costs by tackling food waste.

“WRAP’s report outlines steps that will empower industry to tackle this problem, by wasting less and recycling more. When you consider the average annual cost per outlet is an estimated £10,000, it makes business sense to save money by reducing food waste.”

‘Overview on waste in the UK Hospitality and Food Service Sector’ is the most in-depth study of the sector ever undertaken in the UK, according to WRAP.

The report details waste produced in each of the nine subsectors including restaurants, quick service restaurants, hotels, pubs, leisure, healthcare, education, staff catering and services. It includes a breakdown of the type of food being wasted, as well as the cost of this food waste for each subsector.

The report’s key findings across those nine subsectors include the following:
·The total annual waste including food, packaging and other ‘non-foods’ produced across the sector is 2.87 million tonnes. Of this, 46% is recycled, sent to anaerobic digestion or composted.
·Total food waste accounts for 920,000 tonnes of this overall figure, the equivalent to 1.3 billion meals or one in six of the 8 billion meals served annually by the sector.
·75% of all food wasted was avoidable and could have been eaten. Food waste generally arises from three main areas, 21% due to spoilage, 45% from food preparation and 34% from consumer plates.
·The estimated cost of a tonne of food waste is £2,800.

Henderson added: “Understanding how and why food waste arises within the sector is crucial if we are to tackle the problem, and save money. Today’s report gives the fullest picture of the scale of the opportunity, and outlines practical ways the industry can overcome the problem.”

Steps are already underway to help industry tackle the problem of food waste. The Hospitality and Food Service Agreement, a voluntary commitment created by WRAP on behalf of the governments in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland was launched in June 2012 and has 171 signatories and supporters.

Elsewhere, Wrap also announced that the Northern Ireland economy is set to benefit from food waste prevention measures. Food and drink business leaders, public sector and NGOs gathered in Belfast to set about taking practical steps for collective action to reduce and prevent food waste today (November 21).

Wrap chief executive Liz Goodwin said: “Our research shows that despite good work being undertaken both with household food waste and that of the hospitality and food service sector, there is much more that can still be done. Wasting food is quite literally wasting money, so I urge business and industry across Northern Ireland to work together to tackle this costly issue.”

Business in the Community sustainability director Edward Wright said: “This isn’t just a consumer issue, it’s a serious business issue too. Being efficient in every aspect of business is essential and tackling food waste is one area in which a big impact can be felt by making a few simple changes.”

Liz Gyekye

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