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Food waste – money down the drain

On 18/06/13 by Daisy Blench (Policy Manager - Responsibility)

Waste isn’t a sexy subject. In fact, sometimes, trying to engage pub operators in talking about waste is a bit like me trying to drum up some interest in a discussion about the complex rules of cricket.

But once you start talking about margins and profitability it suddenly all becomes more relevant. At a time when licensees are under more and more pressure, and when consumer spending is increasingly squeezed, it has never been more important to look at where to make savings and where to avoid waste.

WRAP, the Government’s waste reduction body, estimate that every tonne of food waste that a business produces costs it around £1,800 a year. Out of that waste, some is obviously unavoidable but a great deal isn’t and good waste management is therefore important to help businesses save money.

WRAP have recently published new research on out of home food waste. This shows that in pubs around a third of customers leave some of their meal on their plate and the majority of these believe that portion sizes are to blame for this. Whilst pubs are rightly known for being great value for money, reducing portion size slightly, having a range of meal sizes or asking customers if they need extra chips or vegetables rather than automatically providing them can be a good solution and can avoid unnecessary food waste. This short film shows the monetary cost of plate waste in a very effective visual way!

Plate waste is one area that pubs can tackle to improve efficiency and margins; however, before the food even leaves the kitchen there is an equally large opportunity to prevent waste. A good chef will already be trying to use ingredients as efficiently as possible but even they might have been surprised and inspired by the demonstration at the Unilever ‘United Against Waste’ event of cooking with leftover beetroot, herb stalks, fish skins and salmon bones. Although this might sound unappetising I can vouch for the fact that the end result was absolutely delicious!

Unilever have a variety of resources available to help make kitchens less wasteful and more profitable including a tool kit with tips and advice and a ‘Wise up on Waste’ app to help kitchens monitor and track food waste.

This week is Recycle Week and there will be a range of activities going on across the country to remind people of the need to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’. With £722 million a year of possible food waste savings across the hospitality industry, it’s time for pubs to get involved and claim their share. Turn yourself into an expert on food waste and reap the rewards!


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