Research has indicated that, as a nation, we throw away a third of the food we produce. Aside from the harmful methane it creates when it ends up in landfill, and the huge amounts of resources used to create it (such as water and fuel for transport) being wasted, the real choker for me is the 8.4 million people in the UK who are struggling to afford to eat. This is equivalent to the entire population of London. 270,000 tonnes of the food that goes to waste each year is still edible. That’s enough for 650 million meals.

Over £10bn worth of food is thrown away by households in the UK every year. That is an average loss of £470 a year per household because of avoidable food waste, while those households with children have an average loss of £700.

There are things that we can do personally, to help reduce the amount of food we throw away from home. We can shop smart – buying wonky bananas and ‘ugly’ fruit, we can store food correctly and we can repurpose leftovers, the list goes on.

But there is a bigger picture and the nation need to get involved on a more industrial level. Surplus food in the supply chain (food that isn’t going to be sold) but which is still edible, becomes surplus for simple reasons such as over-production, labeling errors or short shelf-life. Surplus food occurs everywhere in the supply chain from field through to fork.

WRAP (The Waste and Resources Action Programme) estimates that 1.6m tonnes of food waste comes from retailers, 4.1m tonnes from food manufacturers, 3m tonnes from restaurants and 3m tonnes from other groups.

This wastage costs the UK Hospitality and Foodservice industry approximately £2.5bn each year. And every sector is contributing.

Profit Sector:

Pubs: 173,000 tonnes wasted each year (£357m)

Restaurants: 199,000 tonnes wasted each year (£682m)

Hotels: 79,000 tonnes wasted each year (£318m)

QSR: 76,000 tonnes wasted each year (£277m)

Leisure: 60,000 tonnes wasted each year (£241m)

Staff Catering: 21,000 tonnes wasted each year (£44m)

Cost Sector:

Education: 123,000 tonnes wasted each year (£250m)

Healthcare: 121,000 tonnes wasted each year (£230m)

Services: 68,000 tonnes wasted each year (£112m)

What can we do as an industry?

There are a number of fantastic charities that industry figures and operators can get involved with to reduce the amount of food they waste, give back to the community and in turn, build up their CSR story.

Here are a small selection that to get you thinking…

UKHarvest is a not-for-profit perishable food rescue operation that collects quality excess food from commercial outlets and delivers it, direct and free of charge, to charities. Providers come in all shapes and sizes, from fruit and vegetable markets, supermarkets, hotels, wholesalers, farmers, stadiums, corporate events and catering companies, to shopping centres, delis, cafes, restaurants, film and TV shoots and boardrooms.

Click here for more information.

WRAP works with governments, businesses and communities to deliver practical solutions to improve resource efficiency. Their expertise is now being recognised internationally, and they are working to bring together like-minded organisations to create a global network focused on making grocery products more sustainable.

They provide tools such as the Food Waste Measurement Guidelines, the Food Waste Reporting Guideline and the Self Assessment Matrix to help businesses help themselves. In addition, they create guides, reports and case studies specifically related to the Hospitality and Foodservice sector.

Click here for more information.

Fareshare are the UK’s largest charity fighting hunger and food waste. They redistribute surplus food to charities that turn it into meals. They have 15 Regional Centres across England, who support charities feeding 280,000 people every week.
So far in 2018, together they redistributed 2,600 tonnes of food – enough for 6.2 million meals.

Click here for more information.

Every little helps, so whether it is small-scale on a personal level, or larger-scale on a business level, get involved. Food is the business we are in so let’s not throw it away.

Fanshare work with more than 6,700 charities and community groups across the country, including:

• Homeless hostels
• Domestic violence refuges
• Breakfast clubs for disadvantaged children
• Lunch clubs for older people
• Drug and alcohol misuse rehabilitation centres

Sources:, Figures from WRAP, Quantification of food surplus, 2016,,