Restaurants left to pick up £772m bill for food waste

The UK's foodservice industry is throwing £722m worth of food away every year due to catering waste and diners not finishing their meals, according to a Unilever study.

Around 400,000 tonnes of food waste is thrown away every year when we eat out. This equates to 65% in the kitchen, when chefs are preparing food, and 30% from consumers leaving food on their plate.

The research undertaken by Unilever Food Solutions rated 29 towns and cities and found that Belfast diners are the most wasteful when it comes to eating out, followed by Brighton & Hove, Cardiff, Chelmsford, Norwich and Wolverhampton.

When it comes to clearing their plates, people who live in Worcester are the most conscientious and tend eat everything in front of them. The study also found that women are more concerned about wasting food when eating out than men.

This might be due to the fact that men are more unlikely to leave anything on their plate, with over half surveyed saying they always ate everything served up in front of them.

However, men are more particular about what they eat – 12% of men cited bad food as a reason for leaving something compared to only 8% of women. Age is also an important factor, with the older generation more likely to clear their plate.

The research forms part of Unilever’s ‘United Against Waste’ campaign, which is calling for the food industry to join forces and work with chefs, restaurants and consumers to reduce avoidable food waste.

Unilever Food Solutions’ managing director, Tracey Rogers, said: “The industry has got a huge role to play and we must work together to achieve concrete results.

“Some caterers are already reducing avoidable food waste effectively and we have also launched a toolkit for reducing food waste, Wise up on Waste, which will help caterers to make their businesses more efficient.”

Maxine Perella

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie