‘Single use’ was declared by Collins dictionary word of the year in 2018, as sustainability and the need to tackle the ever-growing war on waste were firmly fixed in consumers’ minds. The surge towards sustainability has undeniably impacted the hospitality industry, and with the appointment of the UK’s first Food Surplus Waste Champion at the start of January 2019 1, the pressure is now on for the industry to decrease its food and plastic waste.
With increasing pressure for consumers to adhere to more sustainable diets, this is adding pressure on caterers to ensure they offer a varied menu which meets the increasing rise in the demand for both flexitarian and vegan diets.
With all of this in mind, Chris Beckley, Managing Director at kff shares his top tips for caterers looking to become more sustainable in 2019.
Waste not, want not
Food waste is the biggest fight for sustainability that operators will face and the first place to look if they want to tackle food waste, is the bin. Not literally, but understanding which ingredients or dishes are frequently being wasted, is a great first step into minimising food waste. If operators or caterers notice the same items are being thrown away, then portion control is of course something to be looked at. With stocks and sauces, or vegetable trimmings these should be considered for freezing or reused for meal bases the following day.
Use portion control to avoid food waste
It’s important to remember that portion control isn’t necessarily about cooking less, it just means that caterers are cooking to meet the needs of customers at the time. Wasted food in the UK reportedly amounts to 1.3 billion meals, therefore it is important teams are trained in creating new dishes or specials from leftover ingredients.
The war on plastic
2018 saw a real shift in consumer behaviour towards sustainability, we ditched plastic straws, we recycled more than ever, and we bought reusable food and drinks containers all in a bid to do our bit – and this year we envision the war on plastic will only be more prominent. Meaning there is more pressure on businesses than ever before – and it is key that the hospitality industry wakes up to the cultural shift and not only reduces its food waste, but also its plastic and packaging consumption.
Think recycled brown paper for sandwiches instead of plastic wrap, and offering customers discounts if they bring reusable containers for food and drink. Sandwich and coffee shop chain Pret A Manger, are often leading the environmental pathway for the industry. In 2018 the brand notably kick-started an initiative to reduce its plastic water bottle wastage by introducing free water filling stations as well as branded reusable bottles.
Put it to a good cause
A final option for caterers looking to reduce their food waste is to offer leftovers to a local shelter or food facility. Not only will this help to ensure that any leftovers are used that day, but local people in need will benefit too. At kff we’re passionate about reducing food waste and supporting our local communities. We do this by donating in-date, surplus food to a local charity – our annual donations total to around £44,000 worth of stock. According to FareShare, 1.9million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK every year1 and this largely due to food going uneaten because of poorly measured portion sizes and over-catering. If donating food is not possible, highly discounted food items are always another incentive for consumers.
With all this in mind, if caterers look to employ some of the above methods to help keep an eye on portion sizes, stock control and they look for more inventive ways to minimise their food and packaging waste they could not only save money but help towards driving this key change in attitudes towards a more sustainable future.