One of the myths we often hear in foodservice related to food waste is that if you have food waste, it means that a chef or manager isn’t doing his/her job (check out our full food waste myths post here). And while reducing food waste certainly needs to be on the management agenda, solving food waste doesn’t come from a management edict or better IT, solving food waste is about shaping behaviors.
Most Consumer Survey Respondents Say They Waste ‘Less than the Average American’
Last month the results from a unique consumer-focused food waste survey were released. The study was conducted in 2014 with research funded by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. As far as the researchers know, it’s the first nationally representative consumer-focused U.S. food waste survey of its kind.
The survey asked a series of questions including how “aware” consumers are about wasted foods, what shapes their behavior, and what motivates them. Also, of particular interest to our readers in the foodservice industry, respondents were also asked what changes they would support in the retail and restaurant industry to help prevent wasted food.
Here are a few highlights from the survey results that I found to be particularly interesting (you can read the full study here):
(Hint: It's more than just the cost of the food getting trashed.)
Wasted food is wasted money. As a foodservice operator, you are very aware of this connection. But we’re not just talking about the cost of the food that you’re throwing away. Food cost is certainly a major factor, but it doesn’t stop there—you’re paying for that “waste” many times over. In fact, five times by our calculation. Here’s the cold hard truth about the cost of that pan of rosemary chicken headed for the waste bin:
You measure your foodservice operation’s health by looking at a range of key metrics: quality, safety, sanitation and profit. But what about food waste? Is that on your daily “scoreboard” as a measure of success? For most, it’s missing.
A shift in terminology could lead to a shift in behavior.
Earlier this month on World Food Day, I participated in the first ever Zero Food Waste Forum, hosted by the Northern California Recycling Association (NCRA) in Berkeley, CA. Many were calling it the “Woodstock of Food Waste” and it lived up to the name, bringing together global leaders in food waste prevention and recovery to brainstorm how to solve the senseless conundrum that 40% of our food is wasted in the U.S. while 1 in 6 adults and 1 in 4 children are food insecure at some point during the year.