Monash study reports businesses find food waste ‘unavoidable’

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Researchers from Monash University have identified strategies for consumers and business representatives to limit food waste. Image: kpn1968/stock.adobe.com

A team of researchers from Monash University have identified strategies for consumers and business representatives to limit food waste in food service-businesses (FSBs), in an effort to tackle food waste in the hospitality industry.

According to the study led by Dr Ananya Bhattacharya, Dr Alka Nand, Professor Amrik Sohal, and Professor Daniel Prajogo, food waste is detrimental to society for a variety of reasons.

Apart from the economic loss due to food that is purchased but not consumed, the study also highlights food waste’s contribution to food insecurity, with around 3.7 million Australians facing food insecurity in the last 12 months.

To conduct the study, the researchers collected data through semi-structured interviews from restaurant owners, chefs, kitchen managers, and customer-facing representatives from 20 FSBs based in Melbourne.

They found that these businesses, which range from fast-food to mid-range and high-end, all consider food waste to be unavoidable, without acknowledging the hidden multiple social practices that contribute to such waste.

The study found food waste ‘hotspots’ vary depending on different FSB domains.

For example, food waste hotspots associated with fast-food FSBs are linked to consumption practices, while mid-and high-range FSBs tend to generate waste during the preparation and cooking period.

“Consumers in the fast-food restaurants mostly do not feel connected to the food due to the nature of the pre-cooked or assembled ‘fast-foods’ which leads to consumer-induced food waste,” says Ananya.

“On the other hand, chefs’ attitudes towards perfection of food appearance and taste in mid- to high-end restaurants leads to food waste.”

The study suggested several possible strategies at a business level to reduce food waste.

For example, although bulk ordering raw materials is a standard industry practice, technology-based forecasting and inventory management solutions can help reduce the amount of food waste produced.

Changing the perception that food waste is unavoidable in the hospitality industry is also important. Businesses can also use the off cuts during preparation or the untouched prepared food at the end of the day to make other food items, like sauces, soups or juices.

Other suggestions include making sides optional, providing training to staff on how to cook without wasting food, and investing in proper storage infrastructure to keep extra items fresh for a longer period.

Source: Bean Scene Mag

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