Hospitality venues avoiding Christmas food waste through distributions and donations

22 December 2021 by
Hospitality venues avoiding Christmas food waste through distributions and donations

Hospitality businesses across the UK are ensuring Christmas cancellations do not result in food going to waste by partnering with distribution networks or donating dinners to the local community.

"It's really disappointing that we're back in this position once again, where businesses are left with thousands upon thousands of pounds of food that is at risk of going to waste due to changing Christmas plans," said Paschalis Loucaides, UK managing director of food surplus app Too Good To Go, which connects customers with stores and restaurants.

"The conversations that we have had with many hospitality businesses over the last couple of weeks have been devastating. Every day we're speaking to independent pubs and restaurants who have been forced to close due to staff shortages or pub groups who are dealing with masses of last minute cancellations, through to large corporate caterers who have large volumes of surplus stock because of the cancellation of Christmas parties."

He added: "Luckily we have been able to help to provide a safety net for some of this food so that it doesn't go to waste. We've seen a surge of listings on our app, including unwanted meat, fish, shellfish, Christmas puddings and even cheesecakes, destined for parties that haven't been able to take place."

Taypark House hotel in Dundee was unable to cancel nearly 300 portions of turkey dinner arriving from suppliers. Instead, the hotel will be delivering the dinners on Christmas Eve to "those who need it most" in partnership with volunteer organisation Social Good Connect.

Meanwhile, Incipio Group's Pergola on the Wharf venue in London's Canary Wharf has been putting surplus ingredients to use by encouraging guests to make a £5 donation to charity Hospitality Action in return for a free Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.

Paul Loebenberg, operations director at Incipio Group, said: "Like so many other restaurants and pubs we are receiving cancellations at Pergola on the Wharf.

"It is our first Christmas trading and we're determined to finish the year on a high. By offering a free Christmas dinner to our guests, we can remain open for our team who all shared they would prefer to be working, we can support our suppliers and share some goodwill for those in need through our donations."

Offers of food were up 5% last week for FareShare, the national network of charitable food redistributors, which the group said was "in large part from the hospitality sector cancellations". This included items such as turkey, seasonal produce, Christmas puddings, chocolate and coffee.

In Scotland, a government plan is underway to support the wholesale industry to ensure surplus stock, where possible, is redistributed by FareShare.

FareShare chief executive Lindsay Boswell said: "We will endeavour to accept offers of large volumes of surplus raw ingredients wherever possible. Affected food businesses can email where our team will do their level best to manage the offer, and get it to charities providing front line care and support UK wide."

A recent cancellation left Elior UK with 27 whole turkeys and all the vegetables to accompany them. "However, through adherence to strict food safety procedures and with the will of our onsite team we managed to donate the food to a local charity within 24 hours," said Charlotte Wright, Elior UK's head of corporate responsibility and sustainability.

NEC Group caterer Amadeus has ramped up its use of OLIO, a food redistribution scheme it partnered with in July 2019, distributing pre-packaged food such as sandwiches, salads and sushi boxes from venues to those in the local community.

Marc Frankl, food and beverage director at Amadeus, said: "We pride ourselves on limiting food wastage, with OLIO being a key part of our strategy. It makes sure we stop good food from going to waste, helping to support those in need in our community at the same time."

Photo: Shutterstock / Kolpakova Svetlana

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