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Two thirds of diners leave food on plates because they are ‘too full’

By Rachel Parkes , 07-Sep-2011
Last updated on 07-Sep-2011 at 15:05 GMT2011-09-07T15:05:20Z

Six out of ten diners cited being “too full” as the main reason for leaving food on their plates, new research has found, raising questions about whether restaurants are serving overly large portions, contributing to an annual estimated 3 million tonnes of food waste.

According to the poll of 3,000 consumers across 29 UK cities, younger people are more likely to order more than they want or can eat, and yet feel the most guilty when they cannot finish their meal.

The OnePoll survey for Unilever, the owners of Knorr and PG Tips, also found that 80 per cent of people would opt to leave out food they know they won’t eat when ordering in restaurants if asked.

Meanwhile in another report, also produced for Unilever, researchers found that 82 per cent of diners said they thought it was important for eateries to reduce the amount of food waste in the industry.

Both reports came as part of an industry-led campaign for the food sector to avoid wasting food, which WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme )said is worth £770 million a year to the industry.

But Unilever calculated that the wasted food had an ever greater cost, losing the industry £2.3 billion each year in lost sales.

Andy Dawe, head of food and drink at WRAP said: “Tackling food waste can provide significant business savings for the hospitality industry. WRAP is starting to work closely with businesses to help unlock these cost savings and eliminate food waste wherever possible.”

However, researchers also found that 40 per cent of diners would be prepared to pay more for meals in places that have a commitment to reduce food waste. 30 per cent of UK diners believe food waste is the responsibility of caterers, while only 4 per cent think it is the government’s responsibility.

‘Out of home’ focus

The findings, Unilever bosses said, show that the focus on food waste is shifting from ‘in-home’ to ‘out of home’ and the pressure is now going to be on eateries to reduce how much food they throw away.

Tracey Rogers, managing director of Unilever Food Solutions, said: “We know that the Government is committed to moving toward a zero waste society and our actions in foodservice are going to be under the spotlight. We have the opportunity to take the initiative… and with small everyday steps we can reduce waste, respond to consumers concerns, improve kitchen efficiency and also help caterers to save money.”

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