40% of the world’s food is lost or wasted every year
40% of the world’s food is lost or wasted every year (1) and one in nine people in the world can’t get enough to eat. This is as daunting as it sounds.
But in the lead-up to the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste on 29th September, let’s highlight our industry’s actions to minimise food waste. And ultimately cut green emissions and transition to a more sustainable ecosystem.
The hospitality industry is innovative and determined to act. Local initiatives are mushrooming all over Europe. They are a testimony of the food revolution in which our sector is engaged. A restaurant in Helsinki was recently awarded the Michelin Green Star celebrating exclusive sustainable actions. They introduced an in-house composter and offer their suppliers composted soil to take back to their fields. They also started to measure edible food parts in plate leftovers.
In that regard, the European Commission is working on a proposal to introduce mandatory food waste measurement targets across the EU. HOTREC advocates for indicative/voluntary instead of mandatory targets. We believe that given the heterogenous nature of our sector, made of 90% of micro-enterprises, a one-size fits all methodology would not provide good results. Costs arising from mandatory food waste measurement in small hospitality establishments shouldn’t be neglected. Client satisfaction either. Incidentally, the UK NGO Wrap recommended excluding SMEs from the scope of the Food waste measurement reporting for food businesses in England, arguing that mandatory reporting wouldn’t be cost-effective for SMEs (more here p.43).
Rethinking business routines, dedicating resources to waste and training the workforce to sustainable practices take time. And time is money, even more so when current margins are tight for most food businesses.
(1) NB: Food loss is made at the production stage while food waste occurs at the retail and consumer levels.