Food waste costs industry £2.5bn

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Food waste costs the hospitality sector in excess of £2.5bn
Food waste costs the hospitality sector in excess of £2.5bn

Related tags: Food waste, Anaerobic digestion

The UK’s hospitality and food service sector is facing an annual bill in excess of £2.5bn for food waste, according to a new report from WRAP.

The report ‘Overview of waste in the UK Hospitality and Food Service (HaFS) Sector’​, also predicts that this figure could rise beyond £3bn by 2016 unless steps are taken to prevent food being wasted.

It found that restaurants are wasting almost three quarters of a million tonnes of food each year – including food that could have been eaten. This amounts to one in five meals and £17,000 per year.


However, the report showed how effectively pubs are responding to the challenge of food and packaging waste, with 73% of non-food waste being recycled and the cost per tonne of food waste 40% lower than in restaurants and quick-service outlets.

ALMR strategic affairs director, Kate Nicholls said: “While this report rightfully highlights the commercial importance of tackling food waste in the sector, these findings demonstrate the significant commitment made by licensed premises to minimise the impacts of their business on the wider community and economy.”

Charlotte Henderson, programme manager hospitality and food service WRAP, said: “Although the headline figures are large, there are significant opportunities across the whole hospitality and food service sector to reduce costs by tackling food waste.

“WRAP’s report outlines steps that will empower industry to tackle this problem, by wasting less and recycling more. When you consider the average annual cost per outlet is an estimated £10,000, it makes business sense to save money by reducing food waste.”

Food waste

The total annual waste including food, packaging and other ‘non-foods’ produced across the sector is 2.87 million tonnes. Of this, 46% is recycled, sent to Anaerobic Digestion or composted.

Total food waste accounts for 920,000 tonnes of this overall figure, the equivalent to 1.3 billion meals or one in six of the 8 billion meals served annually by the sector.

75% of all food wasted was avoidable and could have been eaten. Food waste generally arises from three main areas, 21% due to spoilage, 45% from food preparation and 34% from consumer plates. The estimated cost of a tonne of food waste is £2,800.

British Beer & Pub Association

The BBPA said it has worked with wrap on the production of a fact sheet designed to help pubs cut waste, which can be downloaded here:

Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “This work we have done with Wrap shows that there are big savings to be made when it comes to managing food waste – an average of £8,000 per pub. If pubs identify where food waste occurs and put together an action plan, it could help their bottom line as well as the environment.”

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