Over the past few years foodservice establishments, industry organisations and suppliers have increasingly been focusing their efforts upon raising awareness of the issue and reducing the amount of food waste the industry produces.

The COVID-19 pandemic and specifically the imposed lockdown has shifted many behaviours both within the industry and from a consumer perspective. We’ve looked at the latest reports from WRAP’s Guardians of Grub over the last few months to share with you how citizens’ food habits, behaviours and attitudes have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic and how you can focus on reducing your own business’ food waste.

There is a key opportunity for catering establishments to raise awareness further and to show your customers, residents and students how to aim to reduce food waste and, importantly, how they can support by making smarter portion size choices and taking home leftovers where possible.

The Stats

  • The UK Hospitality and Food Service Sector throws away 1.1 million* tonnes of food each year
  • 75%* of which is avoidable and costs our industry £3.2 billion
  • In Ireland Commercial Food Waste Research Report found that the leading sources of commercial food waste in Ireland are accommodation at 24% (mainly hotels), food retail at 23% and food service/restaurants at 17%
  • They also identified that two thirds of the food waste created is avoidable


  • Over 8 in 10 agree that food waste is an important national issue
  • 90% believe that everyone, including themselves, has a responsibility to minimise the food we throw away
  • Consciousness about climate change has increased during lockdown with 81% of us saying we are concerned about this issue
  • Information leads to action – the more we hear and see about ways to reduce food waste the less food we throw way. Even during the COVID-19 lockdown more of us are recalling seeing LoveFoodHateWaste (31% up from 16% in 2018)
  • 70% want to maintain at least some of the positive behaviours built up during lockdown*
  • 1 in 4 consumers think it will be hard to maintain the behaviours due to a lack of time and the pressure of busy lifestyles

This gives the hospitality and catering industry a huge opportunity to take advantage of this increase in awareness and interest in how much food waste is created by consumers and food businesses across the UK and Ireland.

Food waste reduction for caterers

Track your current levels of food waste (it can be useful to utilise a mix of busier and quieter days in order to accurately track), create a baseline from your measurement data and targets for your business in terms of the reduction and a time scale if you wish.

Use online measurement guidance and tools available via Guardians of Grub or via foodwastecharter.ie for the republic of Ireland and track the progress against your food waste reduction target.


  1. Food disposed of down the sink/sewer
  2. Food waste from damages and spoilage
  3. Food that is thrown away during preparation such as offcuts and food that is served but not saved
  4. Food waste from plate/ over production/ buffet

Put your words into action – Actively reducing food waste by implementing all appropriate elements within your business from more effective food storage, preparation and portioning to menu planning.

  • Redistribution – Review what food can be safely distributed to local charities via organisations such as PlanZHeroes, The Trussel Trust, FareShare, FoodCycle and so many more.
  • Staff – Empower front of house staff to talk to consumers about portion size options and the availability of doggy bags for them to take away left-overs.
  • Customers – Engage customers whether that be through the use of printed materials such as table talkers, signage, via front of house staff and across your digital and social platforms.

For more information on how you can tackle food waste in your region visit the relevant website from the list below: