Unilever Food Solutions has spearheaded a campaign calling on the industry to tackle the issue of avoidable food waste and has launched a toolkit to help operators make essential waste reductions and savings.
United Against Waste, which was launched at an event in London last week, already has the support of the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), food waste campaigner and author Tristram Stuart, food writer and chef Chris Barber and operators including Sodexo and Whitbread.
According to research from WRAP, released earlier this year, the industry produces 600,000 tonnes of food waste each year, 400,000 tonnes of which could be avoided.
Unilever is urging the whole industry to come onboard the campaign and aims to engage key industry associations to work with their members. Unilever Food Solutions managing director Tracey Rogers said: "The industry has a huge role to play and we must work together to achieve concrete results. Together we must be united and share best practice so we can tackle the issue head on."
Together with the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), Unilever has developed the Work Smart, Wise Up on Waste tool kit, which is available free to all hospitality operators from Unilever's website.
The kit includes a range of practical advice on how to reduce food waste such as audit sheets to measure and improve waste levels, tips on how to plan ahead, effective purchasing and staff training.
Mark Linehan, managing director of the SRA, told Caterer and Hotelkeeper that more than two thirds of food waste is produced by kitchens through prep waste (65%) and stock spoilage (5%), while a third comes from food left on plates.
"The toolkit is a really easy system that provides meaningful information and helps operators establish where waste is coming from," he said. "We supplied Unilever with this kit because we really want to spread the word and make waste reduction an issue that is widespread across the industry."
Unilever Food Solutions also released findings from its second World Menu Report, entitled ‘Sustainable Kitchens: Reducing Food Waste'. The report identified that 80% of consumers feel tackling issues of food waste is important for restaurants, with a third saying they think responsibility should be in the hands of caterers. Meanwhile 40% said they would pay more to dine in an establishment with a clear commitment to food waste reduction.
Stuart said: "The findings demonstrate that the spotlight on food waste is shifting from in-home to out-of-home. There is urgent need for large businesses like Unilever Food Solutions to galvanise action in the food service industry to tackle this issue."
By Kerstin Kühn
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