The scale of food waste in the UK hospitality and foodservice sector

16 Jun The scale of food waste in the UK hospitality and foodservice sector

Food waste is something that happens throughout the hospitality and food industries, but the scale of how much it costs and the condition of the food that is thrown away aretwo things that are often ignored, but it is getting to a point where the wastage, and the cost of wastage, needs to be seriously addressed.

The Weight of Waste

In terms of weight, 920,000 tonnes of foodare thrown away every year, an average of 3.5 tonnes of food per food outlet in the UK. This isn’t uniform across the whole industry, for example pubs have an average of 173,000 tonnes of food waste every year, whereas the restaurant sector has an average of 199,000 tonnes of food waste every year and the staff catering sector has only 21,000 tonnes.

The Cost of Waste

£2.5 billionis the annual cost of food wastage in the hospitality and food industries in the UK alone which, according to, averages out to be a loss of £10,000 per outlet per year.  That’s £10,000 that doesn’t need to be lost as a lot of the food that is thrown away is edible.

What is that in relatable terms?

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the sheer numbers involved, it’s understandable, but to make it easier to digest almost ¾ of the food that is thrown away in the UK could have been eaten.  In a time when there are severe austerity measures still in place, the food and hospitality industry is throwing away the equivalent of 1 in 6 meals that they are serving. In the course of a year, there are £1.3bn worth of mealsbeing thrown away.

How to save money and reduce waste

There are lots of initiatives out there trying to help and reduce the waste in the food industry. Some of these are focused on giving away meals to the homeless, sending food to food banks and soup kitchens to help reduce the waste. Others are focused on encouraging businesses to compost their food waste, especially the food that cannot be eaten or sending waste food to be turned into biogas to help in the production of green electricity.

Others are agreements that are aimed at helping business reach targets to lower the wastage of food and the amount of rubbish that is produced by the industry, as well as reducing the overall carbon footprint. It may surprise you that the food and hospitality accounts for 20% of the UK’s CO2 emissions.

But there are some easy steps you can take to directly reduce your food wastage, one of which is exploring the love food hate waste website. Though aimed at the domestic side of waste, there are ideas that can be applied to the hospitality and catering industry, such as offering special recipes created to use up food that has been over ordered or food close to its sell by or use by dates and selling them at a discounted or lower rate compared to the rest of your menu.

WRAP has produced a series of information sheets to support businesses in the UK hospitality trade in taking action on waste which you can find here

If you would like to arrange a food waste collection schedule for your business contact us today