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Food waste in a cost of living and climate crisis

Food waste costs the hospitality and food service sector approximately £3.2 billion every year – that ’s an average of £10k per outlet, per year…. and the harsh truth is that 75% of this waste could have been eaten!

As well as the huge cost to the industry, we must also consider the environmental cost. When food goes to landfill, it produces methane as it rots (a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide), alongside this, we also waste all the energy and water it took to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. If we stopped throwing this good food away it would save the equivalent of at least 17m tonnes of carbon dioxide per year! That's the environmental equivalent of taking one in five cars off UK roads.

So what can we do……. follow the Wrap guardians of grub principles and think spoilage, preparation, and plate!

Prevent food spoilage by:

Ordering smarter:

  1. Order only what you need, check your stock, review upcoming bookings

  2. Order little and often, stick to local producers for fresher supplies

Reviewing your storage procedures:

  1. FIFO (first in, first out) principles are key! Store newer items at the back so that older items are picked first

  2. Use airtight containers to keep products fresh, freeze products where possible

Avoid wastage during preparation by:

Menu planning:

  1. Plan your menu so that different dishes use the same ingredients, but perhaps prepared in a different way.

  2. Remove dishes that do not sell from the menu.

  3. Fruits and vegetables that are beyond ripe may not look pretty, but that doesn't mean they can't still taste delicious – consider using them up in smoothies, bread, jams, sauces, or soup stocks etc. for a special’s menu

  4. Get creative with your offcuts – think stocks, soups, bubble and squeak, etc!

Staff skills:

  1. Empower staff to make the most of their ingredients and waste less.

End plate waste by:

Portion control:

  1. Get the portion size right – review plate wastage and adjust portions as necessary – perhaps consider offering different portion sizes on the menu.

  2. Offer side orders and less on the plate so that customers can order exactly what they want.

  3. Don’t forget the doggy bag!


  1. Let your customers know what you are doing to stop food waste

  2. Order taking staff can find out what a customer does not like, and leave it off the order

Even with our best efforts, food waste will still exist. In today’s cost of living crisis reports that the cost of food is now a major future concern for three out of four (76%) UK consumers. Why not consider donating your edible waste to a food bank? The FSA is working with businesses to ensure that donating their food is as straightforward as possible, and to support both those who work in food banks, and those who use them. Click here for more information.


Published: 3rd October 2022