Diners ask restaurants to offer different portion sizes to help cut food waste

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food waste, Anaerobic digestion

A quarter of diners leave food on their plates when dining out with many saying it is because portions are too big
A quarter of diners leave food on their plates when dining out with many saying it is because portions are too big
Diners would like to see a wider range of portion sizes offered to them in restaurants, hotels and pubs as research revealed by WRAP shows that more than a quarter regularly leave food on their plates at the end of a meal.  

The organisation, which surveyed 5,000 consumers last year about their eating-out habits, found that large portion sizes were playing a significant part in adding to the 3.4m tonnes of food waste produced in the out-of-home sector each year with chips, vegetables and salad garnishes the items most likely to remain uneaten.  

"When we asked diners how food waste could be reduced, they said they would like more choice and more options for portion sizes," said Richard Swannell, director of design and waste prevention at WRAP, who said outlets offering differing size main courses and side dishes to customers and had staff communicate the range 'sensitively' to customers could see a dramatic drop in the amount of food they wasted. 

United Against Waste

WRAP's findings were revealed for the first time at Unilever Food Solutions' United Against Waste event in London earlier today where those involved in helping to cut food waste across the industry came together to share research, tips and unveil targets for reducing food waste. 

Speaker Mark Linehan, managing director of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), said food waste currently represents up to 10 per cent of a restaurant's costs and that more needs to be done to stop 'avoidable' food waste going to anaerobic digestion plants which could help save the industry £722m in food waste costs each year. 

Linehan said research undertaken by the SRA had found that consumers believed food waste to be as important an issue within the food sector as health and nutrition now with buying food locally becoming less important than in previous year. 

"Our research showed that consumers are no longer that interested in local sourcing. They are more concerned with food waste and 66 per cent would order smaller portions if they could," he added. 

Wise up on Waste

To help chefs cut food waste by at least 5 per cent and reach its own targets, Unilever has created a Wise up on Waste app which will allow them to 'accurately and conveniently' track food waste over a three-day period. 

The app, which takes Unilever's downloadable Wise up on Waste toolkit a step further, can be downloaded directly to smart phones and, as well as assessing the amount of waste produced, offers advice on how to manage the waste coming from customers' plates. 

Tracey Rogers, managing director of Unilever Food Solutions, says: “Up to 50 per cent of the world’s food is being thrown away and what’s even more shocking, is that 1.2 to 2bn tonnes of food produced around the world never makes it on to a plate. 

Unilever's Wise Up on Waste app is designed to help chefs cut food waste

"Not only is this having a severe environmental impact, but with each tonne of food waste costing a business £1,800, it’s making a serious financial impression too.

“Small actions multiplied by millions of chefs can make a huge difference to the environment. With over 88 per cent of chefs in the industry using mobile apps, we know it’s the best way to engage with them and create the biggest impact. The app has been designed to make it as easy as possible for chefs to ensure food is not being wasted in the kitchen." 

Tips to reduce food waste in the kitchen- tips from Mark McCarthy, business development chef at Unilever Food Solutions:

  • Juice vegetable off-cuts such as beetroot and carrot to produce the base of a soup. McCarthy juices beetroot and adds orange zest and dill stalks to create a gazpacho garnished with avocado and orange.
  • The pulp left behind from juicing vegetables can be used as an ingredient for bread. McCarthy makes beetroot and chocolate bread. 
  • Herb stalks can be added to dishes to add flavour when cooking. 
  • Turn 'trash fish' ie. the fish left behind on the skin when filleting into a topping for canapes. Poach and mix with mayonnaise, herbs and seasoning. 
  • Cut the garnish. Frimley Hall Hotel saves £100 per month now by losing the garnish on a number of dishes. 

Download the Unilever Wise Up on Waste app here: www.unileverfoodsolutions.co.uk/wasteapp

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